Beacon and Christchurch’s New Urban Village

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What is the New Urban Village?

The New Urban Village is a new medium density and mixed use inner city neighbourhood to be built in central Christchurch. It is based on the winning design of the Breathe competition.

Competition entrants were asked to design and build a new medium-density urban residential complex that provides a variety of housing options and lifestyle choices based on the key principles of sustainability,  affordability, innovation and a strong sense of community.

Four designs were selected from the first stage of the competition for further detailed development.  The final winning design will be built on the corner of Madras and Gloucester streets.

The New Urban Village project is a joint Christchurch City Council, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu and CERA/CCDU development.


Getting the ball rolling

Beacon was part of early discussions with the then Department of Building and Housing and Christchurch City Council about the idea of a housing showcase.  Enthusiasm for the idea was reflected in Christchurch City Council’s draft Central City Plan in 2011 which proposed a Housing Showcase.

Christchurch City’s vision is to create a unique eco precinct which meets current and future residents’ needs through creating homes and neighbourhoods which are great places to live, work and play.  The Housing Showcase will become a model for Christchurch, potentially generating more energy than it consumes, conserving / recycling the valuable high quality water from the Canterbury aquifer and delivering living / working environments which are carbon zero and incorporate restorative sustainable design.

It was envisaged that the Housing Showcase would:

  • Be an exemplar of best practice urban design which sets the future normality for post earthquake Christchurch
  • Help deliver on community aspirations for a liveable and attractive sustainable city.
  • Add to the vitality of the city by encouraging inner-city living and working.
  • Promote industry innovation and learning by providing a living laboratory of sustainable building design incorporating prefabrication, modular designs and green technologies.
  • Provide a marketing and innovation platform for development companies who are exploring smarter building systems.
  • Provides opportunity for central government agencies to work collaboratively with Christchurch City Council in setting the standard for residential rebuild

Beacon submitted to the CCDU’s Central City Recovery Plan.  We voiced our strong support for including the Housing Showcase in the CCDU’s blueprint for the recovery of the central city. We are delighted that the final Blueprint Plan includes the showcase on the site provided by Christchurch City Council.Meeting Kevin McCloud

The idea for a housing showcase was further seeded by a study tour of new and sustainable developments in the UK, led by Nick Collins.  The tour included Kevin McCloud’s The Triangle development, and a meeting with Kevin which formed the basis for inviting him to be the overseas judge for Breathe, the design competition leading up to the new neighbourhood.


Beacon’s role in New Urban Village project

Beacon Pathway worked with the Christchurch City Council, professional institutions, industry colleagues, and the community to develop the idea and scope for the New Urban Village project.  We successfully sought and secured sponsorship for the design competition prize from industry organisations including CCANZ, NASH, BRANZ and EECA.  We also encouraged professional support of the concept from institutions such as NZ Institute of Architects and NZ Institute of Landscape Architects.

Beacon then assistemd MBIE with the Breathe design competition and went on to evaluate the competition and develop a toolkit for residential design and build competitions.

As one of the small group who started the ball rolling, Beacon is delighted to see the design competition for the New Urban Village completed and planning for the construction of the Village underway.  By providing an exemplar of innovation and sustainability,  the Village has the potential to set the tone for future rebuilding in Christchurch.


  • 03-Sep-2014 (Conference paper PRES/45)

    Breathing New Life Into The Central City (PDF 8MB)

    Verney Ryan

    Presentation to the Building a Better New Zealand Conference 2014.  Covers the Breathe design and build competition in Christchurch.

Logo, Breathe

Graphic, Breathe