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SOL| Christchurch, New Zealand

The Mews at South of Lichfield or “SOL” was designed by studio LFA, the firm also responsible for the Palm Court Project.  Inspired by the mews of Knightsbridge, Westminster in London and the Melbourne CBD Lanes, SOL provides a complex urban environment focused on its relationship with the pedestrian.

The SOL precinct and the Lichfield Lanes has become the preeminent inner city district in New Zealand, right in the heart of Christchurch.  Boasting the best bars and night spots, designer clothing shops, restaurants, and entertainment the city has to offer SOL has the rare ability to provide these amenities in a unique urban setting.

SOL is located in the former warehouse district to the southeast of Cathedral Square in Central Christchurch.  Containing a wealthy historical character, the architecture of this area typically possess highly decorative facades fronting the main streets with walls of plain brick fronting a network of rear lanes and service yards.

An overwhelmingly pedestrian dominated environment defines the SOL project, with vehicular use confined to accessing properties within the quarter.  The Lanes provide connections through the middle of the block marking them individually as places rather than merely thoroughfares.

SOL is currently isolated from the centre of Christchurch and its existence is not obvious to those unfamiliar with the area.  In the unlikely event that it will ever become a main connector, it will rely heavily on adjacent activity or as its role as a true destination.  Further revitalization of future buildings and spaces along connecting Lanes is expected.

The plan allows for a number of pedestrian environments in the form of a covered arcade from Taum Street and an open mews from Lichfield both converging on the open court along the alley.  In order to ensure the heavy usage of an urban space it is imperative to provide the pedestrian with visual proof of a destination in order to readily judge the level of ease required to reach it.

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