The entertainment exchange is an integrated entertainment and dining development that has reinvigorated central Christchurch after the devastating earthquakes of 2010-11. Hoyts, the anchor tenant, occupies the top two levels in a state-of-the-art multiplex that boasts seven screens, as well as two bars and restaurants. Downstairs, the dining precinct offers over 20 eateries, with communal seating and a diverse range of dining experiences.
With only a two-year build programme from start of design to completion, the project is the result of remarkable collaboration and a shared vision among the developers, architects, builders, and regulators.
“This project was an opportunity to do a commercial entertainment area that was more than ordinary; it was an opportunity to represent Christchurch.”
Both the exterior treatment and the interior fit-out seek to evoke aspects of Canterbury’s agricultural heritage and food industry, reinforcing the client’s desire for rustic charm. Inspiration for colour, form, texture, and material selection is derived from the various themes throughout the Canterbury countryside – box hedges, field patterns, and mountain ranges.
A monumental atrium space inside the main entrance, conceived as a glade amongst forest trees, introduces light and acts as a beacon within the wider city precinct. The Hoyts cinema multiplex is housed within a concrete ‘wall structure’, wrapped in a variegated green and glass cladding that is reminiscent of a Canterbury shelter belt.
If Hoyts is the destination, the grand entrance creates immediate excitement and direction. By contrast, the small doorway into Cleaver & Co evokes the feel of a speakeasy. This myriad of experiences, unified within a simple architectural concept, achieves a playful balance between form and function; commerce and art.
The dining concourse, located beneath the canopies and structures along the length of Colombo Street, is glazed to create permeability and connectivity with the adjoining streetscape. The dining interior is strewn with motifs from the Cantabrian landscape - ferns, groves, vines, and beech forest – along with signs and wall surfaces referencing the agricultural history of the region.