"A New Christchurch; Some thoughts for a new Christchurch."
There are lessons to be learned by the Christchurch reconstruction authority from the Napier earthquake recovery and reconstruction struggle of 1931.
J S Barton, a magistrate and L B Campbell, engineer, were appointed as Commissioners of Napier, charged with organising the reconstruction effort, who together with local committees had the job of organising reconstruction. Local survey plans and land titles were destroyed, neccessitating property re-surveying.
Insurance companies refused to cover the damage from fires that ensued after the earthquake. In 1931 Parliament passed the Hawke's Bay Earthquake Act, which provided loans for local firms and citizens to rebuild properties.
Because of the economic depression at the time, funds provided were far from adequate and repayment terms were steep.
A lot of the recovery funds came from charities, who in subsequent weeks, poured the cash in.
The authorities didn't want haphazard growth and a temporary shopping centre "Tin town", was built in Clive Square and used for several years.
They were then, more or less, told to get on with it.
Napier differs fom Christchurch in that Napier's town centre was pretty much razed. A clean palette, so to speak.
Authorities were able to completely re-design the centre, with wider streets, and some of New Zealand's earliest underground power and
Four architectural practices joined together to share ideas and resources.
Louis Hay was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Natusch and sons' buildings were simple and clean in style.
Westerholm did many buildings using Spanish Mission style.
The most popular though, was the Art Deco style, used by E A Williams, emphasising spare clean lines and geometric motifs.
Two years later, at the New Napier Carnival in 1933, the city was officially declared reborn.
The reconstruction ideas and plans must come from the citizens of Christchurch, who are fizzing, bursting with inspirational ideas for using their ambitions, energy and capital and supported by planning, architectual and engineering professionals who will aid the people to define and design Christchurch as a 21st century city in sustainable design and in the use of energy, food and resources. Imagine new centres of business and laboratories for biotechnology, electronics, finance and other high-value services for agriculture and manufacturing, with plenty of rich opportunities for both science and business and a new relationship between rural and urban communities. The community needs a set of agreements on their own ideas and plans. Council and the government can't mandate that, nor can they micro-manage it as they seem intent on doing. Instead government can set a broad framework for engagement, support of the work, and pledge to build the city the citizens want. (See above how the Napier rebuild was handled). The citizens of Christchurch must own the re-build.
I would like to add my two cents worth, so here's what I think
The Central Business District is a 17th century concept and was created when horses were used for transport and as a means of communication.
Forget the idea of a CBD now.
There are a lot of buildings within the district irrevocably damaged, these can be cleared and the sites returned to gardens.
Hagley Park will be greatly expanded out into the old business district, to the riverbanks, then down to the sea.
Having said that, there are also many hundreds of wonderful buildings in the centre of town needing to be lovingly rebuilt and restored because afterall, it is the old buildings which define Christchurch and make it such a handsome, beautiful city. Some examples are churches and the old University buildings.
New 'hubs' (hearts?) to be developed in the suburbs, incorporating small parks, civic, commercial, manufacturing and residential (apartment) buildings. The new buildings will be constructed in timber and be about three or four stories high and incorporate everything we know about new earthquake-proofing, sustainability and environmental building standards. New vertical farming in converted highrise buildings, garden roofs and green walls. To bring Christchurch back to its genisis as the market-place for the farmlands on the Canterbury plains. An international architectural competition will be held for the designs of these new buildings.
The hubs will be connected with a web of fast, modern trams and bicycle roads. Imagine highly attractive places for living, shopping, recreation, entertainment and education, with a very high standard and quality of design.
The newly created Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) is mandated with consulting and executing the recovery plan.
But will it? I don't think the chances are very high when we look at this government's track record of pushing through legislation under urgency (twice as much as the previous administration) which cripples select committees and the opportunity for careful debate to improve legislation. The new CERA legislation has suffered from this. Its consultation mechanism has been side-lined and it's now all too easy for CERA to ignore, particularly if it uses the example of minister-in-charge of Chch's recovery, Gerry (Bozo) Brownlee. This administation has already abused democracy in Canterbury when it sacked the elected representatives of the regional council and appointed commissioners. It then released a shoddy report which misrepresented the council's performance and ignored the council's progress building concensus on regional water issues. I wonder if Brownlee will tire of democracy at city council level and sack the council as was done to the regional one? People are becoming frustrated, exhausted and frightened. The major cause of frustration is the government itself, which is focussed on immediate issues only and seems incapable of responding to people's needs. "The lockdown of information here is truly scary," an emailer wrote about rebuilding the fabric and life of the city, "No one is talking to us".