Central city recovery

This Issue This is a part of the Canterbury earthquakes feature

By - , Build 126

The Christchurch City Council has drafted the Central City Plan to guide the redevelopment of Christchurch urban core. The process highlighted the community’s passion to make Christchurch a great city once again – perhaps even better.

A glimpse of the future low-rise, resilient, safe Christchurch central city.

Christchurch City Council has invested significant time and resources to revive the central city over the last 10 years. The four major earthquakes dramatically redefined the need for revitalisation but the partnerships already formed, targets set and plans established offered some direction in a very uncertain time. It was also quickly found that the community had a clear and consistent vision for the rebuild of the central city.

106,000 ideas from residents

The ‘share an idea’ campaign was launched within 10 weeks of the February earthquake asking residents to think about their central city. A website developed for residents to share their ideas had more than 58,000 visits.

As ideas flowed in, targeted questions filtered ideas into topics – move, market, space and life. These four themes were presented at the ‘share an idea’ community expo, which attracted more than 10,000 residents in May. Attendees shared their ideas on post-it walls, by making videos clips, building their central city out of Lego, filling out questionnaires or by logging ideas on the website.

In total, 106,000 ideas were shared during the 6-week campaign.

Clear vision for rebuild

The community expressed the desire to rebuild a:

  • green city – more green spaces and use of green technologies
  • distinctive city – where the built form reflects quality, character and identity
  • market city – to support business and attract visitors
  • city with life – a great place to live, work, play and learn, supporting all ages and abilities
  • city with transport choice – making it easy for everyone to get around.

These ideas complement the five guiding principles defined by the Christchurch City Council to create a vibrant and prosperous city:

  • Foster business investment
  • Respect for the past
  • A long-term view of the future
  • Easy to get around
  • Vibrant central city living.

48-hour design challenge

The central city project team then had under 4 months to pull the ideas and principles into a cohesive action-oriented plan that would be staged and implemented over the next 20 years.

To match this urgency, the council sponsored a 48-hour challenge for design professionals to translate the key principles into design realities on any one of five project sites in the central city. Fifteen teams of seven individuals from multi-disciplinary fields participated, with one student on each team.

The projects were judged by an expert panel based on criteria such as incorporation of public space, green building elements, seismic stability, economic feasibility and so on. The winning team was NZ Wood with a redesign of the Orion site displaying adaptive reuse, innovative architecture and civic landscape.

The challenge gave the public a chance to see how the Central City Plan principles can come to life on individual project sites, offering a glimpse of the future Christchurch.

Low-rise, resilient, safe and sustainable

The Central City Plan has more than 70 projects to be implemented during the next 10–20 years, each designed to help rebuild the area within the four avenues. Central Christchurch will be redeveloped as a low-rise, resilient, safe and sustainable city.

The council is proposing to attract reinvestment by introducing catalyst projects such as light rail, a world-class library and metro sports facility, exploring localised renewable energy schemes and doubling the open space in the project area. However, public investment can only deliver part of the urban fabric. Private development will collectively shape the future city.

Changes have been proposed to the district plan to facilitate implementation of the Central City Plan. These initiatives aim to bring the people back into the central city. If successful, Christchurch will be a place recognised globally for its resilience and adaptability and as one of the great cities of Australasia.

A glimpse of the future low-rise, resilient, safe Christchurch central city.

For more

The draft Central City Plan can be viewed at www.centralcityplan.org.nz.

Download the PDF

Articles are correct at the time of publication but may have since become outdated.

A glimpse of the future low-rise, resilient, safe Christchurch central city.