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Revealed: the three finalists for Lyttelton's development design competition

The three finalists for the Collett’s Corner development project can now be revealed, with The Hive by In-Flux, Chance Encounters by AHHA and We Dine Together by Oto Group taking out the top spots. The  competition is being run by the Ohu (Office for Holistic Urbanism), which plans to create a 2,300 square metre mixed-use building on the Collett's Corner site in the heart of Lyttelton. The building will also be collectively owned by the community it supports, with many local stakeholders taking part in the voting to choose their top designs. 

The announcement marked the end of the first leg in the design competition that encouraged architects and graduates to submit concepts, with 31 entries from across New Zealand, and over 90 companies participating in the competition. The community seized the opportunity to participate and have their say, with the competition receiving a total of 2389 votes, which sent the three finalists, ‘The Hive’, ‘Chance Encounters’, and ‘We Dine Together’ through to the second round.

It’s a big project for the small town of Lyttelton, with plans to inject employment and income into the region as well as attract tourists through guest accommodation, collaborative workspaces, and hospitality outlets. Additionally, it will house hot bathing pools, a co-working space, a restaurant, a shop, a quirky hotel, a cinema and an event space and bar. The brief held flexibility and the range of concept designs produced a promising blend of Lyttelton’s vernacular coupled with quality urban design.

The judging panel included Andrew Turner, Deputy Mayor, Councillor – Banks Peninsula Ward, Christchurch City Council and former owner of the Empire Hotel, which used to be on site, Tony van Raat, Chair of the Auckland NZIA and former head of Unitec’s School of Architecture and Camia Young, founding partner of Ohu and former international Architect. The basis of the judging was on the criteria of: 40 percent concept, 20 percent purpose, 10 percent function, 10 percent execution, 10 percent innovation, and 10 percent team’s skills.

The first design that made the finalists, The Hive by In-Flux, was appreciated by the judges for the clarity of concept, strong relationship to the local climate, granular scale and clear laneways through the site. The project is centered on Lyttelton’s atmosphere as ‘organic’ an ‘artistically chaotic’ township into the design. And is described as a city within a town with some features including an open cinema spaces on the top floor, and a rooftop farm that caters for Lyttelton's micro climate. The building is made out of of sustainable and prefabricated materials such as cross laminated timber, which draws on the town’s historical connection with timber, in combination with modern day innovation.

The second finalist, Chance Encounters by AHHA, was commended for its adaptable concept, excellent material suggestion, integrated approach and the diverse skill-set of the team. The project proposes to be a building not only from and for the people but from and for the place. It’s design process is notably different, and is centered on a well-known Maori proverb:

He aha te mea nui o te ao

What is the most important thing in the world?

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.

It is also credited as a nod to Lyttelton’s past, as the design seeks to embrace its topography, it’s culture and it’s people. True to its name Chance Encounters, is based on creating places and spaces for chance encounters and interactions with others, while incorporating various other features. 

The third pick is ‘We Dine Together’ by Oto Group, and holds the concept of the dining area as ‘the heart of the community and intersection of other programmes’, and invites community to break bread, share ideas, and form community values. Its outdoor area is a reflection of its ethos, providing an interactive space with community, and acts as a space for summer activities and becomes part of the markets every Saturday, another key feature is its rooftop garden, which flourishes as a meeting place during the day, and a cinema/romantic location at night.

The three finalists will go onto stage two of the competition, and will have eight weeks to further develop their concepts. They will present their designs at the Lyttelton Arts Factory on September 6th, with first place will receive $10,000 and the second and third place receiving $5,000.

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