Page C1.1 . 23 July 2003                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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    Postcard from Christchurch

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    The Arts Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand is an example of 19th-century Gothic. Photography by Linda Novitski.

    Dear ArchitectureWeek,

    On my first day in Christchurch, New Zealand, I was eager to explore the city's cultural heart. After enjoying the brilliant blossoms of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, I headed east toward downtown, where my eyes were drawn to a group of stone buildings from another century.

    On the exterior, these buildings, now known as the Arts Centre, almost looked like a pieced-together puzzle. Rectangular stones of varying sizes and colors composed the walls, while an outline of white stone highlighted the narrow windows and the courtyard arches. These bluntly pointed arches created an open, airy feeling, perfect for the mild fall weather, while the steep roofs accentuated the diamond and triangular shapes found throughout the buildings' facades.

    The Arts Centre's lovingly maintained buildings, of the Christian Gothic style, were initially erected in 1877 as several in a group of twelve buildings for the Canterbury College campus. After the college moved to a new location, the buildings were taken over by an art school. Then, after additions were made, the buildings were used as a boys' high school. In the mid 1950s, the school became the Arts Centre, which now houses art studios, shops, a theater, and restaurants open during the week.

    I had the good fortune of visiting during the weekend, when the courtyards were filled with local musical talent along with fresh produce and ethnic food booths. That day, my quest for a slice of New Zealand's arts culture was successful.

    On the road in Christchurch, New Zealand
    Linda Novitski


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