Christchurch, New Zealand

2014-12-31 00:00:00

Our Ever Evolving City

Technical Committee Evaluation

From 2010, a series of earthquakes and aftershocks caused loss of life and extensive damage to Christchurch. The damage included the destruction of 1,200 commercial buildings and damage of 90 percent of residential properties.

The city is using the recovery process to rebuild its social fabric as well as to enhance resilience. Extensive engagement with citizens was launched through the "share an idea" campaigns. From the thousands of responses received, the community's vision of a livable, vibrant and prosperous city began to take shape.

A transitional city program includes support for recovery in three key areas: healing and wellbeing, sense of place and business. At the same time, the transitional program contains elements for long-term recovery such as testing new ideas, enhancing community resilience and creating a new identity for the city. To date, hundreds of community activities have been organized and vacant spaces in the city have been activated with creative projects.

The private sector has contributed significant financial and in-kind support while 10,000 hours of voluntary work has been given by the community.

An indication that Christchurch is firmly on the way to recovery is the fact that it is once more being listed as a tourist destination worth recommending.

Background Information

Following the Canterbury earthquakes, Christchurch City Council launched the Share an Idea community engagement process, in which the public submitted over 106,000 ideas for the Christchurch rebuilding. The community’s vision was for a livable, vibrant, green and prosperous city.

This public feedback formed the basis of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan which included A Transitional City, to be led by the Christchurch City Council.

Implementation was based on best practice from around the world, considered in the Life in Vacant Spaces report (see Additional Material 2).

Goals of the Initiative

The Transitional City Programme includes support for recovery in three areas - social, sense of place, and business. The timeframe is ongoing, as the recovery is expected to take 20 years.

To support the recovery in both the immediate and longer-term timeframes, the programme aims to achieve the following outcomes:

Goal 1 – Support social / community recovery:

•Through early recovery - by enhancing healing and wellbeing, encouraging participation in the recovery and creating new positive memories.

•Through long-term recovery – by enhancing community resilience, fostering volunteering, and testing new ideas for long-term adoption.

Goal 2 – Support recovery of sense of place:

•Through early recovery - by creating a safer, more welcoming city for all, with temporary greening, more fun, and greater activity choice.

•Through long-term recovery- by encouraging and enabling creative exploration of identity in the public realm, to create a new identity for the city.

Goal 3 – Support recovery of business, by:

•Through early recovery – by mitigating the “island effect” as businesses recover-through way finding, activity and streetscapes which use temporary, re-locatable and adaptable materials and approaches.

•Through long-term recovery - by fostering entrepreneurship, innovation, creative industries, and developing new local and international tourism markets.

Innovation for the Initiative

The Transitional City Programme demonstrates innovation in the following areas:

•Governance: collaborative approaches used to align partners around a new concept for the city including local Maori, property owners, businesses, tourism, event organizers, the arts community and local universities.

•Governance: supporting the establishment of new not-for-profit trusts (with broad community representation) to activate vacant sites with landscaping and social activity.

•Strategy: urban regeneration and recovery planning including Council and community-led transitional architecture and temporary activities for the city.

•Administration: reducing the risk of use of public and private spaces for temporary activation through the creation of a broker organization (Life in Vacant Spaces) and by cutting red tape and relaxing planning regulations for approvals.

•Financing: adopting a cofunding approach for community grants (Transitional City Projects Fund) and boosting our local creative industries (Creative Industries Support Fund) at a very challenging time for our city.

•Community: extraordinary innovation demonstrated by the number and range of projects and events delivered by the community (see Additional Material 1).

•Business: extraordinary innovation demonstrated by local entrepreneurs testing new goods or services in a low cost, low risk environment, embracing new transitional business opportunities and partnerships.

Outcomes and Assessments

Outcomes achieved to date include:

Outcomes for community recovery:

•At least 325 community events have been organized since 2010.

•Over 10,000 hours of volunteering has been given by the community.

•The community continues to test new ideas for the future.

•Numerous positive media articles and supportive responses have been received (see Annex 1 and Additional Material 1).

Outcomes for recovery of “sense of place”

•Nearly 100 vacant sites have been activated 450 times with over 150 creative projects (see Annex 4).

•Transitional city projects are now recognized by the community and visitors as symbols of hope and recovery (see Annex 1 and Additional Material 1).

•Our Ever Evolving City connects people to spaces and businesses throughout the city.

•Numerous activities reflect our past, present and future helping to tell our story and shape our future.

Outcomes for business recovery:

•70 new businesses have established in the city (see

•Increasing visitation, including 20,000 visitors attending a single event (see

•Projects have been focused on supporting business clusters and community hot-spots (see Annex 4).

•High levels of corporate sponsorship and in-kind support have been received.

•Pop-up retail is now included in private tenancy agreements.

•25 new business models, products and services have been established from pop-up spaces.

•Artists and entrepreneurs are choosing to move to Christchurch for the opportunity to participate in the creative spirit.

International travel guide Lonely Planet in 2013, and the New York Times in 2014, highlighted Christchurch as one of the best places to visit. Both specifically mentioned the transitional city projects.