CROWNE PLAZA CHCH DESIGN AGENCY A FINALIST IN NATIONAL AWARD

The design agency responsible for the creative magic that transformed a former office building into the stunning new Crowne Plaza Christchurch is a finalist in a national design award.

New Zealand design agency Designworks has been named a finalist in the Best Design Awards for its innovative and fresh design approach to the hotel.

Run by The Designers Institute of New Zealand, the awards are an annual showcase of excellence in graphic, spatial, product, interactive and motion design. Designworks is a finalist in the Hospitality Spatial Design category.

Designworks architect Naomi Rushmer said the company was “thrilled” to be a finalist.

“It’s great news, and a wonderful opportunity to showcase the new design to a wider audience,” she said.

For Crowne Plaza Christchurch, she said the company focused on delivering a creative guest experience based around being welcomed into the property, and how that flowed into relaxation, eating and working across the entire hotel.

“Our brief was to create a premium 4.5 star-hotel experience that put a ‘fresh spin’ on the Crowne Plaza brand as well as making it work locally, and to ignite the theatre and drama of the nearby Performing Arts Precinct,” said Ms Rushmer.

“As the city’s largest hotel, attracting locals and those from across the globe, the design needed to deliver an exciting and unique experience maximizing the 360-degree views of the Port Hills, Southern Alps and the Pacific Ocean.” 

Designworks centred its thinking around a ‘new energy” in Christchurch.

On arrival at the 204-room hotel, guests are greeted with a welcoming and boldly-crafted interior featuring timber slats wrapping the walls, accentuating height and anchoring the lobby space.

A large freeform mesh ceiling feature glows over the reception pods, inspired by the winding Avon River. The space connects to the adjacent lobby bar through a striking doubled-sided central fireplace, helping draw guests inside. 

“The fireplace is very impressive, adding some real drama and mood to the space,” said Ms Rushmer.

Full-height windows flood the ground floor with natural light during the day, and carefully curated and dramatic lighting brings the spaces to life, changing mood and atmosphere, as dusk falls. 

The food and beverage experience has been designed as ‘open and theatrical’, showcasing local cuisine from within a crafted café, sophisticated lobby bar and Market Place restaurant, named after the original market on site.

A grand open staircase connects to first floor dining, library and meeting rooms, and feature carpets and rugs draw inspiration from the braided rivers and topography of the South Island.

To maximize the feeling of space in guest rooms and engage with expansive views, glazed bathrooms (with privacy blinds) are open to the rooms and changing vistas.

Large window seats in every room frame the ever-changing views – the seats are designed with portable tables so guests can rest, work and eat from this unique spot.

Ms Rushmer said balancing the needs of brand owner IHG and the building owners had enabled Designworks to deliver a “world-class” design.

Crowne Plaza Christchurch General Manager Reinier Eulink said the hotel team and owners were “delighted” with the stylish look and feel of the property.

“The feedback we’ve had from guests, locals and those using our meeting rooms or food and beverage spaces has been hugely complimentary and we wish Designworks all the best for the awards,” he said.

The Best Design Awards winners will be announced at a gala dinner in Auckland on October 6.