Architect Craig South reviews progress on the Christchurch rebuild and finds a city on the cusp of an exciting future.
Christchurch has waited six years for the 100 day blueprint to come off the plan and deliver on its promise, but the new CBD revealed in that blueprint is now moving much closer.
The plan laid out by the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) in 2012 was a bold one, based on a vision of the city’s future produced by the Christchurch City Council in consultation with the public through the Share an Idea campaign. Nothing less than a truly liveable 21st central city was at the heart of that plan. It has been a long time coming but now, in 2018, we’re starting to see it happen, and it’s going to be amazing!
The anchor projects – a cornerstone of the rebuild – are heading in the right direction and are poised to reinvigorate our city centre with contemporary architecture and state of the art facilities.
Complementing the city’s new fabric are our heritage treasures; which I have a real passion for. After much deliberation, work to restore the Cathedral is due to get underway in coming months, while the Arts Centre restoration is in full swing. Connected by gracious Worcester Boulevard, these two Gothic Revival survivors are touchstones for the city, linking past to present.
When the new central library, Tūranga, opens in the next few months, it will be the largest library in the South Island and also one of its most innovative, I’m excited to explore all that it has to offer. I think it needed to be cutting edge and hopefully it will deliver on its potential as both a digital and print hub as well as a cultural flagship for the city.
Te Pae, Christchurch’s $475 million convention centre, is on track to open its doors in 2020 and is already taking bookings. It is exactly what is needed to bring visitors back into the city centre. By the time Te Pae is up and running, the Christchurch Town Hall restoration will also be complete with events due to be held there from 2019.
Adding to the positive momentum, including progress on the new stadium and the city’s east and south frames, is the fabulous new waterfront taking shape along the Ōtākaro/Avon River. It is opening up the river for walking and cycling, with a promenade all the way from the Antigua Boat Sheds to the Margaret Mahy Playground.
One of my fondest memories of Christchurch from before the earthquakes is of taking a day trip into the central city by bus with my daughters; visiting the library, having lunch at a café and wandering along the Avon River. A generation of young people have missed out on experiences such as these while Christchurch has been without a fully functioning city centre. It will be great to take the girls back into the city again, now that the blueprint is becoming a reality.
Our central city has been like a broken jigsaw puzzle, but the pieces are finally coming together. Plan and reality are joining up to create an amazing liveable city, whether for working, shopping, walking, cycling or socialising. The excitement is beginning to build for what’s in store!
Published on Thursday, August 16th, 2018, under The Architecture