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New Zealand Institute of Architects









Christchurch Botanic Garden Visitor Centre

Patterson Associates

Christchurch Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre, Patterson Associates

Photo by Emma Smales



The building is an exhilarating contemporary take on the traditional garden greenhouse typology and an adroit and sympathetic piece of place-making. Flanked by a stretch of the the Avon river and backed by a wall on the Christ’s College boundary, the Visitors Centre stretches gracefully along the perimeter path to establish a new territory in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. It is cleverly and progressively layered: behind public areas, such as a café and shop, are ‘threshold’ spaces for functions, exhibitions and tours and, finally, the cell-like pods housing the propagation rooms and labs of a working greenhouse. The building, crisply white as glasshouses should be, nicely balances transparency and opacity, and structural clarity and ornamental detailing. With commendable economy, the elegant form has been grafted onto a modular commercial greenhouse. This is an inspiring contribution to the public realm in Christchurch.

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