By Cuisine3 Minutes
January 16, 2020By Cuisine

If you fancy a yoga class followed by a cleansing organic juice (sipped through a bamboo straw) and then maybe a hand-crafted Paris Brest pastry oozing with hazelnut cream just to keep the balance right, head straight down to The Welder, a complex in the progressive South Town neighbourhood of Christchurch where the hospitality and lifestyle brands share a philosophy of holistic health and sustainability. This is retail and food therapy that’s good at heart and good for you – but none too precious. “We were prescriptive about the types of businesses we wanted within The Welder,” says James Springer, associate at Box 112, the developers behind the project. “It’s a curated mix of artisans that tie into the wellness theme.”

Six gritty warehouse workshops, some dating to the 1880s, were converted into one space centred around an urban garden planted with native trees. “We retained the character of the buildings as well as their single-level, human scale,” says James. Where once the air sparked with the fiery torch of industry now, within the 2000 square-metre space, up to 18 tenants operate in a like-minded village. Among the line-up is wholefoods refillery GoodFor, Greenroots Juicery, the Great Pastry Shop, Two Raw Sisters, indoor-plants emporium Flourish Foliage, hair salon Corkin + Friends, and O-Studio where you can take an ice bath and a sauna or float weightlessly in pods filled with salt water.

For many of these independent operators, this is the next step beyond a market stall or a pop-up shop. Sally Hooper, who has two outlets at The Welder – a yakitori bar called Bar Yoku and Spanish wine and tapas bar Salut! Salut!, says there’s a real community spirit. “Tenants meet regularly to share ideas about business and sustainability. We are conscious of waste, for instance, and encourage the right thing but it’s a supportive environment where no one is judgemental or pretentious.”

The area of South Town is growing apace and urbanites will no doubt welcome an environment to play and dine mindfully right on their doorstep. Above the reimagined facade is a much photographed old workshop sign, crafted by local personality known only as ‘Gordon, the welder’. Inside is a place to be quiet or to socialise beneath a man-made forest, a respite from the concrete and the cacophony that is the final phase of the rebuild. thewelder.nz / CLAIRE MCCALL