Letters: Controversial Cathedral Square pavillions a ‘monstrosity’

TOO BIG: Christchurch Civic Trust says the proposed pavilions in Regenerate Christchurch's vision for the Square would compete with Christ Church Cathedral.

Readers are backing the Christchurch Civic Trust calling for the proposed pavilions to be moved out of Cathedral Square. If you have an opinion email bridget.rutherford@starmedia.kiwi

Rob Williams  – The
proposed pavilion in the Square is nothing short of a monstrosity! The chalice is amazing, and far less intrusive than the proposed pavilion. I hope the council will see reason, and move it elsewhere. It will detract from everything around it, and for what? It is so ugly. There is a need for money to be spent in Christchurch on many other things – roads for one – it is another total waste of money. I have talked to many people about this, and none can see the reason for the suggestion to locate it in the Square.

David Thornley – The Metropol Parasol in Seville is a highly successful plaza creation. Unfortunately, it does not translate to the basket case of an architectural proposal for Christ Church Cathedral Square. The proposed structure confronts the Cathedral with hostile antagonism. Urban designers and landscape designers should not be interfering and competing with the Cathedral which should be the dominating and enduring image of the square.

Aliza Clifford – For a Garden City I have to say this is pretty ugly. What’s wrong with a decent piece of lawn with some sail shades and some leafy trees to offer cool cover in the Summer. Some of our Christchurch officials seem to have developed the attitude “if it’s a blank space we need to build something on it”.

Ann Christie –  They are hideous and would significantly detract from the Cathedral. Again, magic areas are about to be turned into ghastly, non-visit locations. What has happened to our Garden City?

Sandra Shaw –  I was horrified when I saw the proposal and wondered what on earth the people who came up with the idea were thinking. It is totally inappropriate to have such huge, overbearing structures so close to the Cathedral. Having travelled overseas many times, I have yet to see one square, where the central building (ie the Cathedral, waiting patiently to be restored) is overshadowed by a completely unrelated structure. To be brutally honest, they look like slugs to me. Sorry. I like design consultant David Thornley’s proposal, of cloisters installed around the perimeter of the Square. An excellent alternative and in keeping with the age and Gothic architectural style. My main objection to the pavilions is their total lack of sympathy to the architecture of the Cathedral and the proximity. We have much empty space in the city. There are much more appropriate places for these structures.

Jane Muir – I think it’s not in keeping with the Square. It would be better to research old English Squares and then design something. The Chalice is another example of no overall perspective that’s in keeping with what it represents.

Charlotte Newlands – I think the pavilions will impact negatively on the Square as a whole, as they cover a large area, and do not match any other structures in the Square. They actually look like a fungus that is permeating the space, and actually reducing the apparent size of the Square. I have always liked the open space of the square, and do not belief roofing such a large area should be part of the design. I do like the idea of the cloisters, or a wooden Gothic shelter, as they will fit with the Cathedral and the history of the original Square design which is important to acknowledge, alongside modern day uses.

Sandra Humphrey – It would definitely detract, and with the design of the Convention Centre also, could look like an amusement park and a clutter. Create something to blend with the Cathedral. Stone is timeless, trees and green spaces with a bit of layering would be a welcome relief to the modern buildings that will surround it. Cloisters sound wonderful. No tussocks please.

Barbara Mccartney – No, I don’t like the look of the suggested pavilions, and certainly not for the Square. They are entirely out of place amongst the other buildings there. Perhaps consider erecting them in the red zone where there are great green spaces to fill?

Helen Amer –  I dislike the proposed pavilions for Cathedral Square. I love the idea of cloisters or arcades instead.

Kathy Palmer – Keep the Square open. Fifteen per cent rates rises over the next three years and the council wants to spend $80 million on some architect’s vanity project. The design resembles a metal-framed sea slug. Use the money on roads, sewers and cultural projects. It would add much more benefit to Christchurch.

E Wilson –  I don’t know who came up with those ‘things’ for the Square but they obviously had no appreciation for heritage buildings. We have very little heritage left in the city and I would have thought we should appreciate and cherish it. Those pavilions are far too modern and large to be situated there. From squares I have seen in Europe, the most that is put in is a fountain or a statue. We don’t have to add anything like that, but if anything has to be put in the Square, it should complement the Cathedral and the post office building rather than detract from them.

Bridget Taylor – While the pavilion designed for the Square looks interesting, my preference is that the spaces around the Christ Church Cathedral reflect and enhance its heritage values. I agree with the Civic Trust that this pavilion would be better placed elsewhere. The cloisters would be a more sympathetic addition. Gardens are essential and open space.

Angela Barnett – Every time I look the artist’s impression, it reminds me of a decaying one-eyed fish and the “trellis” looks like a piece of discarded netting. I think it looks ugly and completely out of place. I know Christchurch has to move with the times but can we not do better than this?

Annette and Alastair Thompson –  The proposed plan for the Square is too big. It will detract from the Cathedral. Christchurch was settled by the English so we would like to see designs that fit with a cathedral square. This lattice-style proposal is a Maori design (Maori basket) and does not fit the brief. So it’s a big thumbs down from us.

James and Bernice McSaveney – Would they enhance the Square? No, not at all. They would be totally out of place with the restored 19th-century Cathedral and would detract from it entirely. They look like huge open mouthed fish; or as some say, slugs.  Our city would become the laughing stock of the international tourists. Where are the New Zealand designers, and architects who have an eye for beauty? If those pavilions have to be anywhere at all, they should be built at a beachside suburb.

Sharon Miller – This thing is hideous and will ruin the Square.

Some readers like the designs

Warren Hancock – What a great looking building, helping to modernise Christchurch.

Tracey Nimmo – What I can see from the planned design so far, I really like the look of it. It’s nice in contrast to the Victorian buildings and it looks to be soft and flowing. It’s a great idea to try different styles and designs to uplift the city and its citizens. It could be beautifully lit up at night too with warm glowing or electric coloured lighting. Just thinking of building designs around the world that were first unloved and later became inspirations of creativity and admired. It could just be one of the things Christchurch needs. It’s fun and a bit playful and might provide a cosy and safe haven for public gatherings, art, music, talks and events.

Rupert Ward – I love the pavilion design. It is dramatic and inspiring and can be used by people. We can have a traditional square and I am a huge supporter of the Cathedral restoration but we need courageous modernity as well. Look back at the objections to the pyramid on front of the Louvre when that was proposed. The average Parisian could hardly imagine such a construction in the centre of their city. Now the world loves its dramatic complement to the palace behind. If there weren’t objections to a contemporary building in the Square it wouldn’t be worth building.


  1. OMG what were they thinking. Totally inappropriate in Cathedral Square. The Cathedral has always been the centre of the Square and to introduce a monstrosity such as this would surely have our forefathers turning in their graves.

    My initial thoughts were that the designer had worked on the proposal late at night after the second or third bottle of a second rate red.

  2. What a monstrosity for our Square or for that matter anywhere in our beautiful garden city! Whoever came up with the idea must be going to kindergarten. Many of our beautiful Heritage buildings (OUR HERITAGE!) have been taken from us. Some by forces beyond our control. Many by someone who referred to them as “OLD DUNGERS” pull them down. Visit the UK or Europe and see the beautiful old buildings. Some standing from as far back to 1066 or earlier. These have been treasured and preserved. We are a young country where our forefathers brought memories of their homeland. Keep buildings in our city in perspective PLEASE.