Moving to Christchurch to help with the long-winded rebuild (3 years on and the CBD is still in ruins), or maybe you’re emigrating there because you’ve heard it’s a nice place to live?
There’s a great article in the Sydney Morning Herald that you should probably take a look at. The link is here http://www.smh.com.au/world/total-rebuild-20140317-34way.html. Here are some excerpts:
After viewing a few buildings that were in the process of being rebuilt – the Theatre Royal the Town Hall for the performing arts and the “neo-Gothic complex of the original University of Canterbury,” he wrote
Three years after the earthquake, these were the only things I saw happening on the ground. The rest was still on the computers. There was a lot of it, and a lot of it was being done by Warren and Mahoney (who hosted me and our photographer) in several studios around New Zealand, and in the one they recently opened in Sydney’s Surry Hills.
All I saw of the future city was a rapid slide show of artists’ impressions of a series of low-slung cuboids. The maximum height allowed for new buildings is 28 metres, seven or eight storeys. Sensible and appealing enough for a modest city of under half a million people, though the rationale of lasting trauma in the city didn’t entirely convince as an argument against height…
In their abandonment, these do not look like great designs. They display the motifs of jobbing commercial architecture over the decades. Some 1960s brutalism, a lot of the brown aggregate cladding popular in the early ’70s. An amusingly redundant faux balcony superstructure from the postmodernist ’80s. And so on. You wonder whether the new Christchurch is going to be imprisoned in the stylistic moment of its rebuilding…
The artist’s impression showed a long strip of grass and pavement running between two uniform rows of young professional townhouses. The strip between the lines of houses was 40 metres wide – because, Miskell told me, at 20 metres you could still see the look on a person’s face. The townhouse occupants would police the strip through their front windows on either side, ensuring it did not become a new terrain for dealers in substances and their clients.
This strategic beautification was a response to the fact that a nearby park had become the domain for illicit trafficking. It recognized that all was not entirely well among the people for whom the new city was being built.
Christchurch has its dark side. Over breakfast each morning, I read progress reports of a case in which a young woman had been tortured to death and thrown into the river by gang members after a dispute over drug payments. Self-policing townhouses didn’t seem much of an answer to social malaise. “
He then cited the tremendous amount of work that had been done in Chile to rebuild after the devastating earthquake. Alejandro Aravena, the architect responsible had
collaborated with the Catholic Church and the mining and oil industries to create a common good. The social mix, the economic and social tensions built into his urban designs, have released a dynamism into cities that no one, except the architects themselves, had imagined.
A larger social imagination was hard to find in play over my three days in Christchurch. I had the feeling that the new city would be much like the old, only with lower buildings that were less likely to fall down. Given the city’s origin in a bold if wacky social experiment, and New Zealand’s outstanding history of advanced social practice in the last century, the future looked like being a letdown.”
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