The sculptural, iconic form of the Christchurch Art Gallery, Te Puno o Whaiwhetu, has created a New Zealand landmark.
The building’s design connects to the surrounding natural environment, as well as to the town after which it’s named. The shimmering, undulating glass façade is reminiscent of the ripples in the winding River Avon which is a symbol of the old, as well as the new settlements. The glowing glass and metal sculpture wall evoke the sinuous form of the river. Curved pools of water at its base also echo the River Avon and create an impression of changing light.
Inside, the lobby space fills with light dappled by the form of the wall itself. The experience of being there is similar to being underwater or in a forest, both very appropriate in this river-bisected, wooded town. Dappled light is valued by human beings, it’s comforting in a fundamental, primordial way.
The decision to select Buchan’s design from almost one hundred entries was unanimous. The building includes nine exhibition areas, libraries, auditorium, workrooms, curatorial and conservation spaces, administrative offices, restaurants, retail outlets, extensive storage spaces and underground parking.