A vision in timber
It’s one thing to hear about EXPAN, but how could Christchurch city look and feel if timber technology was used in the rebuild? That was the challenge put to local architectural firm Warren and Mahoney – and their resultant vision is truly inspiring.
Warren and Mahoney Principal and Executive Director Graeme Finlay, Principal Simon Brown and the team set about looking at how EXPAN technology could be used to rebuild a confident and revitalised city.
“The new city needs to entice businesses, residents and visitors,” Graeme says, “Timber technology offers safety, durability and beauty – it’s an integrated solution that meets the demands of what people are looking for in the rebuild of Christchurch.”
“Ultimately, the vision for the CBD has to come out of what the people of Christchurch want, and clients are telling us they want low rise, safe buildings. Using EXPAN technology, we can build safe structures that have the ability to maintain their integrity after an earthquake – crucial for people’s confidence in returning to the CBD.”
“It’s also vital for retaining long-term investment in property in the city. Property owners are looking for buildings that people want to live and work in, and buildings that not only hold up under earthquakes, but remain viable after major shakes, and timber technology can offer that.”
It’s not just about rebuilding Christchurch, but also restoring the economic strength of the region, Graeme says.
“The idea of rebuilding the city with a primary product from the South Island, with technology that has been developed in Canterbury would certainly support this.”
Sustainability is another key feature of EXPAN that appealed to Graeme and the team in their vision for the rebuild.
“We have the opportunity to use a product based on a renewable primary resource grown here in New Zealand, produced with very low CO2 emissions. Wood has come together with this technology to create a product that could be used to build a city that is recognised world-wide as a centre of sustainability and innovation.”
The team’s concept drawings also illustrate the beauty, character and warmth of wood.
“It shows that timber buildings can be beautiful living and working spaces,” Simon says, “Heritage and lifestyle have always been Christchurch’s major draw cards, so we focused this vision on creating a safe, sustainable city where beautiful buildings, green space and natural light come together to create a revitalised urban environment.”