The Christchurch city development blueprint release marks not only the start of a ‘framework’ but another set of questions: how does it measure up not only against international standards but for the reality of the everyday citizens? Is it enough to secure a city voyaging into the 21st century? How exactly will the major parts of the ‘planned’ precincts turn out architecturally for people to experience?
This project aims to address these questions by designing part of the designated ‘Green Frame’ of the blueprint. Situated next to Latimer Square, the proposal calls for a plant science research facility. Advancing on the proposed idea of the Green Frame giving to public use, the research facility attempts to closely tie together two user groups of scientist-researchers along with the general public. In this way, the research facility is a park and the park is the research facility – allowing for mutual benefit.
The concept is derived from a close study of roots and how they play multi-functional roles. When a root sets themselves into soil, they change the ground condition with their interaction; that is, they makes a soil devoid of life capable of sustaining a system of life around it. This idea along with the geometry of the multi-axis root system became the strategy for the design: the building would be ‘fragmented’ into smaller laboratories which were interconnected to each other by the ‘paths’ just like the roots. Circulation, therefore, defines the building form: this allows for a closer interaction for the forms and the journeying along the site. Exchanges and chance encounters between the scientist-researchers, along with the public, are intended to improve innovation and collaboration. That is, the design is a network of buildings embedded into the garden of plants showcasing the research and plants of Canterbury and the agricultural plants for both the public and scientists.
Thus the design offers a new opportunity for the ‘Green Frame’ closely relating to the economic activities around Christchurch and with long-term plan in which a deeper understanding of plants can be enjoyed by both public and scientists, furthering a more co-inhabitance between plants and the built environment.