22 February, 2011.
A devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake ripped through greater Christchurch claiming 181 souls and forever changing the face of the ‘Garden City’. Today these victims are poignantly commemorated in the memorial photographed above in the form of 181 pure white chairs located within the, hitherto sealed, CBD – now mostly re-opened. The fact that you can actually now view this site at all is a testament to the fantastic endeavour, tenacity & fierce pride that Cantabrians hold for their city & community.
This stoicism is being channeled into building a new city hewn with due deference and acknowledgement to the past but with both eyes firmly focussed on creating a great future. That’s kinda exciting albeit understandably there will be/ and has already been pot holes (literally!), angst and great divergence of opinion as to what this final Christchurch might be. Indeed it may well be that there isn’t ever an ‘end’ as such – much like a Peter Jackson movie.
The garden city is again filling a ‘gap’ in the market.
So with the past acknowledged let’s talk about how bloody cool Christchurch is right now. Specifically I want to highlight the amazing Gap Filler Project.
In their own words from their website. Gap Filler
…aims to temporarily activate vacant sites within Christchurch with creative projects for community benefit, to make for a more interesting, dynamic and vibrant city.
Arguably the piece de resistance of the projects currently active is the Pallet Pavilion (opposite). The week I visited it was a bar, live music hub, wedding reception venue & cosy reading & games room (below). I have to say I found it all extremely palletable.
Check out a time lapse of the Pallet Pavilion’s construction.
Some of the other Gap Filler projects have included:
- Gap Golf. Pop up mini golf courses.
- Think differently book exchange.
- Cycle-powered cinema
- Pizzzzzza is ready. Community woodfire pizza oven.
- and loads, loads more!
My absolute utter favourite though is the Dance-O-Mat.
Dance-O-Mat is a dance floor located on a vacant site with lighting and sound provided courtesy of a coin operated converted washing machine. Wink, wink – Laundromat…Dance-O-Mat, get it. You just arrive on site, plug in your smartphone loaded with your fav beats and get about owning the dancefloor. Check out the video below. Charles & Camilla were recently in attendance bustin it too. No seriously I think he may have done a hip.
Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2013. Top 10 cities – Christchurch #6.
So don’t take my word for it but do that of the doyen of travel guides – Lonely Planet. They came, they saw, they quite possibly danced and their verdict was to include ‘CHCH’ in their Top 10 cities to visit in 2013. Their article on Christchurch is here.
There is a palpable energy & vibrancy to what is occurring in Christchurch right now. If I am to be frank I would say that it would most appeal to cool people with copious cachet. Oh that’s you, great! If you would revere a Banksy rather than try to cash a cheque in one then I think we’re on the same page. The Christchurch of today is a contemporary amalgam of popart, retro, make-do, innovate, dance-to & future-proof. Or maybe the photo below offers a better visual synopsis.