Tūranga Christchurch Central Library

Tūranga Christchurch Central Library

Christchurch’s central library was badly damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes. As part of the city’s recovery strategy a replacement library was identified as a key project to assist the revitalisation of the city centre and Cathedral Square.

Architectus in association with Danish architecture firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen were commissioned for brief development, design and delivery of the new central library in 2013.

The new central library will be the flagship of the Christchurch library network, act as a catalyst for redevelopment and fulfil an important civic function. The library will need to convey the values and identity of both the library and the community it serves.

The building will be a beacon, creating a vibrant edge to Cathedral Square and a dialogue between the civic space of the Square and the activities within the library, particularly the key public space of the Community Arena.

The project responds to the changing role of libraries in today’s environment, the local context and international trends in library design. The library provides a social hub for the community to access and share knowledge through a range of media, in a building which is welcoming, diverse and representative of the community it serves.

Collaboration and stakeholder engagement have been key components of the project. A brief development process and ongoing consultation with the public, key stakeholders and local Iwi has provided an understanding of the community’s aspirations. As a result, the design addresses ‘the local’ as a key functional and aesthetic driver. Terraces on the upper floors face culturally significant points in the Canterbury landscape and the facade is designed to reflect the golden colours of the Port Hills.

Project Sheet

Project Summary

Christchurch City Council
Christchurch, New Zealand
Floor area
10 000 m²
Original value
Carsten Auer


  • NZIA Canterbury Architecture Award – Public Architecture 2019
  • NZIA Canterbury Architecture Award – Interior Architecture 2019
  • NZIA Canterbury Architecture Award – Resene Colour Award 2019