St. Christopher’s is the Cathedral for the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. The building opened in 1939, and forms the largest church in the national capital, occupying a prominent site on the corner of Canberra Avenue and Furneaux St. in Manuka.
The $40 million redevelopment project, which was designed by Cox Architecture, took advantage of the ageing Cathedral grounds and outdated buildings, presenting an opportunity to revitalise the precinct for the future. The Cathedral Precinct Redevelopment now encompasses several different uses including the new Diocesan and Parish Administration Building, 44 new supportive housing apartments, public space, seating and sculpture.
The project was created in collaboration with landscape design consultants at TRACT. The extensive redevelopment of the site included demolition of existing buildings, and the construction of a car park, a three-storey administration building, and a five-storey medium density residential building (consisting of 40 residential apartments).
A significant challenge for the project was developing a contemporary, and yet sympathetic and respectful building, that suited the existing heritage values of the Cathedral.
According to TRACT, St Christopher’s predominately urban landscape complements the Cathedral by reflecting the colours and textures of the building’s external façade within the pavement.
“The pattern language established within the urban fabric of the landscape envelopes and connects the surrounding contemporary buildings with the historic cathedral, whilst celebrating the heritage aspects of the site,” commented a representative from TRACT.
“The redevelopment creates an important and sensitive edge to Canberra Avenue, a pedestrian scale to Franklin Street and retains the Cathedral and bell tower as the predominant elements in the composition. [St Christopher’s Cathedral Precinct] has transformed the precinct into a vibrant community of residents, office staff, parishioners and clergy on the edge of the Manuka shopping area,” commented Cox Architecture.
The project was completed in 2017 and has since been awarded three AIA Architecture Awards in the Public and Interior Architecture and Urban Design Commendation categories.