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Ōtākaro Orchard food hub


A sustainable building to serve as an information centre, community meeting spaces and cafe, complete with a rooftop garden.

Post-quake Ōtautahi Christchurch is on the cusp of a revolutionary food system with 780 parks, 26 community gardens, 70 edible school gardens, 5 food forests, and 26,000 fruit trees on public land. Ōtākaro Orchard is a key part of this ecology; a central city urban food hub and a living laboratory by the Ōtākaro (Avon River).

In our first major community project with multiple stakeholders, Field Studio was engaged to design a sustainable building to serve as the Food Resilience Network’s home base, along with housing an information centre, community meeting spaces and cafe, complete with a rooftop garden. Through this project, Field has developed a strong process to work with multiple client stakeholders which we have since used successfully on other community projects.

We valued the opportunity to develop a building with a focus on non-toxic and sustainable materials. The building is clad with handmade earth bricks, which are not only locally sourced, but made by over a hundred community members in a series of workshops. We enlisted the help of sustainability experts Tricia Love Consultants to ensure only Red List free materials were specified (Red List represents materials, chemicals, and elements known to pose serious risks to human health and the greater ecosystem that are prevalent in the building products industry).

The building is aiming for Living Building certification and will be a space that gives more than it takes from our environment. Solar panels are installed on the northern roof to supplement power to the building. Outside are composting toilets, and a urine diverter provides food for plants on the green roof.

The wider context of the area was a key guide for our decision making. The building is positioned adjacent to the newly constructed riverside path adding vibrancy to this walkway and encouraging foot traffic to the cafe from passersby. The substantial green roof allows for larger native plants than on a typical green roof, and its angled pitch means it is visible from across the river on Armagh Street.

Clients: Food Resilience Network, Christchurch City Council
Sustainability: Tricia Love Consultants
Photography: Jonny Knopp

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Field Studio of Architecture + Urbanism

270 St Asaph St, Boxed Quarter (Level 1, Western Courtyard)
Ōtautahi Christchurch
Aotearoa New Zealand