This post is by my good friend Michael Durie, who knows the heart and soul of Christchurch and her people very well. Michael was in Christchurch on 22 January for the 1 year anniversary of the 2011 earthquakes. When he showed me these brightly coloured photos and told me the story behind them I begged him to pen a few words and send me the pics.
Evidence that good things can come out of bad – 12 months on from the Christchurch earthquake, the central city has undergone a major rebirth. Known as ‘Re:start’ this has slowly transformed many parts of the formerly devastated inner-city shopping precinct with a collection of colourful pop-up shops.
Why is this so cool? Well, most of these retailers are housed within the ubiquitous shipping container – even the Post Office! From well-know locals such as Barkers clothing and Scorpio Books to the Apple Store, the shops and cafes and their brands have breathed fresh life into a precinct that suffered significant damage during the February 22, 2011 quake.
On a recent walk-around you would think this area had always existed and apart from the constant sound of jack hammers, cranes, bull-dozers and work teams from nearby streets where building demolition is still in full swing, shoppers, tourists and locals alike were relishing in a very funky shopping oasis.
In fact it has been so successful, there are plans to extend the ‘Re:start’ theme into other areas of the formerly bustling shopping centre once these have been cleared and are ready for regeneration. One of the quirky sights that have sprung up around town are the ‘gap filler’ installations – where vacant lots are being turned into meeting points, colourful parks or lending libraries (free books stored and swapped for free out of stand-alone freezer boxes).
It’s very Christchurch!
The city and its citizens have embraced these initiatives with growing pride as a sign that the city will rise again. It’s a restart that may take years to shape but will ensure Christchurch is a world leader in breathing life back into its own broken heart.
~ Michael Durie