ideas for christchurch

A week after the earthquake in Canterbury the aftershocks are still continuing but the clean up is underway and demolition has already started with calls for less haste in the wielding of the wrecking ball and now the debate begins on how to rebuild the city.

Do you tear everything down and start again with a new style like Napier (although Napier suffered much more devastation than Christchurch)? What style? Do you rebuild everything to look just as it was, like the old town of Warsaw after WWII? Do you abandon the inner city and rebuild in the suburbs? Do you rush everything through the consent process just to get something, anything built before the Rugby World Cup (although this seems to be a short-sighted short term solution for a long term issue). How do you strike a balance between public nostalgia and developer economics? Are historic brick buildings the only ones with heritage value? What about the heritage value of more recent modern buildings? The decisions that are made now will have implications for the future of both city planning and individual buildings.

A group of architectural graduates are calling for ideas how the city could be rebuilt, with submissions accepted between Wednesday 15th September and Saturday 25th September:


24 responses to “ideas for christchurch”

  1. I’m glad that someone is instigating conversation on this topic. A letter the other night on “Close Up” urged for halting on the demolition of “world heritage buildings” – we have a rather high view of some average Christchurch architecture! I think exceptional architecture ought to be saved, but more average examples should freely be replaced with something of more interesting architectural merit.

  2. I would love to see green, eco-friendly buildings planned for and built, wow, what a showcase Christchurch can be for buildings which nurture the community, soothe the soul. In the meantime, can we please have some gardens in the inner city? I am thinking of organic community gardens built where the buildings once were, maybe even using the rubble and bricks as garden edging. Even if we could just have the use of this land for a season or two, wouldn’t that be a great way for people to work together, be hopeful about the future, which is what gardening provides, and also have wonderful food? Christchurch, the Garden City – or not?

  3. I see that Fletchers has just donated $1million toward a fund for repairing and strengthening eq-damaged heritage buildings…

    Now here’s a chance for all of you who really care to make ready with the folding stuff…

  4. Actually, the ‘world class heritage’ buildings are likely to be the older, Gothic style, granite / basalt, Mountford-designed buildings, and not the later, brick feeble efforts of the Victorians which are all falling down so badly. From what Peter Beaven said on The Nation in the weekend, the Mountford buildings have survived remarkably well.

    Mind you, that’s not down just to the architecture. My guess is that the older buildings got the pick of the better ground to build on as well – ie, any slight rises in the ground, or solid rock areas in the surrounding marshy land – and the later buildings may have been built on more wobbly ground, which has probably worsened their situation.

  5. soupe du jour Avatar
    soupe du jour

    Building everything in the same style seems a remarkably bad idea. Having said that, a Neo-Christchurch Modern could be an interesting flavour.

    Napier got away with it but with a scale shift you get Miami Beach. Art Deco ad nauseum.

  6. Oh come on – have you ever been to Miami? Not the Don Johnson glitzy 80s Miami – but the older Deco area of Miami? I think “ad nauseum” is a bit rich…

  7. I would like to see CCC put money into a design competition to pay an architect for a year to design replacement buildings in the CBD, very modern and green. It’s an opportunity too good to miss to have design of a consistent quality, time and place to mark the event.

  8. soupe du jour Avatar
    soupe du jour

    The stucco and pastel hues of the Art Deco buildings found in Miami simply aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Sure, the historic district has a little ‘charm’ but that’s about it. The art deco to be found there isn’t even particularly exemplary when you consider the masterpieces in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, or even Hoover Dam.

    The reason that Napier and Miami are famous for its Art Deco architecture is largely because of the homogeneity, not the quality or individual beauty of the buildings.

  9. Yes sdj, but you’re not supposed to say these things out loud…

  10. soupe du jour Avatar
    soupe du jour

    Apologies for the faux pas m-d.

    And also for completely diverting the conversation. Back on topic. Marcus – agreed, a competition led approach would be a fantastic opportunity to build something in line with Christchurch’s vision for their urban future while maintaining the existing identity of the streets. But how does this process work when the buildings or sites in question are not civic projects?

    I love the idea that nature is forcing a more compact city with the “unstable ground at the urban periphery” making suburbs dangerous places to build.

  11. We hope that during the rebuilding process a lot of thought is put into utilising green technology such as LED lighting. Energy consumption in commercial buildings wasnt really considered back in the day but it is something that should be planned for in todays environment.
    I like the ideas of creating some green space in the city center. Little parks for people to take lunch breaks etc, great idea!

  12. the nzia has appointed ian athfield as an ‘architectural ambassador’ to christchurch city council to provide advice and co-ordination during the rebuilding of the city.

    although what is wrong with referring to athfield simply as an ‘advisor’ – ‘ambassador’ has acquired connotations of useless celebrity, as in a UN ‘goodwill ambassador’ or models who seem to have become ‘fashion ambassadors’.

    the mayor, bob parker, notes “This is not about heritage restoration, that’s a separate issue. It is about ensuring that we rebuild in a way that is sympathetic to our city’s unique character. This is an historic opportunity for us to work as a community to develop a vision for the rebuilding of our city – we must get this right and we need to work together to achieve this.”

    these are good intentions and defining exactly what ‘sympathetic to our city’s unique character’ means will be important for those rebuilding/replanning the city, in particular how to develop the character rather than apply it as an historical pastiche.

  13. Miami’s art deco is quite sophisticated and operates under dramatically different conditions than do the more well known landmarks of New York, Chicago and other major cities. The Delano Hotel in Miami is one of the great landmarks of the modern resort style and I would not hesitate to put it in the pantheon of American classics.

    Napier I can’t vouch for, having never been.

  14. We’re running a quick survey and comments forum on the delays affecting the rebuilding. Check it out:

  15. tristan gilmour Avatar
    tristan gilmour

    A discussion was had with friends the other night and we discussed the CBD rebuild and the economics of it. We thought that the CBD could be flattened and that the space could be divided up into lots to be allocated to donating countries. With the request that they have a lot to build their vision of the latest in green energy sustainable design. Imagine 40 countries from around the world with their own opportunity to showcase their best in one city. It would finance the problem and the buildings could be tied together with an urban design plan utilising more greenspaces (kind of like the botanical gardens with buildings in it – or university of canterbury campass)Any comments on how this could be improved.

  16. Geordie Avatar

    A greener version of Dubai? No thanks. Christchurch owes much of its charachter to its gridded street layout. Memory is important for the city to move forward. I don’t think a Corbusian grand scheme for the city would really work that well. Not to mention pragmatically that the land is mostly owned privately, no developer is going to donate their land away.

    Christchurch needs to have its new buildings designed by New Zealander architects, who know the city and its environments well. Ian Athfield hopefully can take an active role in overseeing the rebuild efforts.

  17. All I hope as a resident of Christchurch is that time and thought is put into the design of new buildings and space rather than slapping up cheap, tacky box buildings that look run down and shabby after 5 years. Personally, I would like to see lots of green space, gardens mixed up with living and working.

  18. Geordie Avatar

    Isn’t Christchurch already the ‘Garden city’? There isn’t enough people (in the CBD anyway) to warrant a whole lot of green space. It wouldn’t get used.

    Mind you, Arch Centre Manifesto #1: fresh air [+ green space] is better than some buildings!

  19. I still think there is room for more gardens, when is there not?!? Have you ever heard of, been to the labour of love that is “Broadfields” gardens out of Christchurch in Prebbleton? It’s fairly low maintenance and stunning. It is the vision of one man who has poured his own money into it. Besides, I want to see living and working mixed and done with class. I would like to see buildings with character with use of different materials that reflect the area. E.g. Queenstown and its use of alpine shist etc.

  20. Geordie Avatar

    No I’m not aware of Broadfields sorry Sasha.

    Sure, gardens are lovely and all that, but there will be no one there to appreciate them! At least in the CBD anyway, as the council over the last decade or two has sucked the life out of the city by encouraging the proliferation of the suburban malls.

    Local material use is a great idea, I personally like the shades acheived by Peter Beaven with the concrete blocks of St Mary’s apartments in Colombo St. These from memory are made from that common sort of Christchurch rock (is it greywacke or something?)

  21. No, there is noone there right now obviously but give it time. Gardens to help make some of the empty space a memorial of calm to reflect upon what was. I for one am definately anti any more big ugly malls with their chain stores and enjoyed the boutiquey orginal shops in town. However, that is no long. If there are clusters of smaller shopping areas around Christchurch that contain a more original shopping experiences with wine bars, cafes etc is something I am not opposed to. There is no room for more malls!!!!! Google broadfields or even better, visit it. Open Wednesdays and Saturdays. Don’t know anything about the Christchurch rock though.

  22. lianne Avatar

    I think this is an excellent opportunity to rebuild a green cbd, not just in parks etc but buildings, making more eco-friendly structures. There are not many eco-friendly city centres in the world, and not only would it help build a sustainable future by building sustainably, it would also be an attraction for tourists.

  23. Neville Forsythe Avatar
    Neville Forsythe

    Are the ideas submitted last September being presented this weekend at the Canterbury Stadium seminars?

  24. Neville – we haven’t sent any of our members down to Christchurch for this weekend – but please feel free to present any of the ideas shown here on our behalf. And if you want to update us here after the weekend, then please do.

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