Christchurch, the phoenix

By | Category: Travel destinations
Festa 2013

Festa 2013

Three years ago, the news was about a devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. Roads disappeared, the cathedral was hit and a cardboard one took its place. In many ways it was quite surreal.

In most countries, three years on there would still be large scale building, people would still be feeling the effects and economists would be forecasting a decade of recovery.

But not in Christchurch.

Like the proverbial phoenix, Christchurch is offering the visitor a bundle of sights to see and attractions to enjoy.

Perhaps because so much was destroyed and improvisation became a byword, Christchurch is now home to some of the most exciting public art events in New Zealand. And it’s appropriate that a world-famous street artist, Banksy, should have contributed to the OI YOU! RISE collections of street art which adorns the walls of the Canterbury Museum along with other leading progressive artists such as ROA, Thom Buchanan, Milton Springsteen and Vans the Omega.

Reflecting this change is the free annual Festival of Transitional Architecture (FESTA)  will return in late transforming Christchurch’s cityscape through a myriad of interventions, events, talks, tours, projects and public participation. But in the aftermath of the earthquake bizarre and quite brazen events took place. The Gap Filler creative regeneration project started after the earthquake to temporarily activate vacant sites within Christchurch, with everything from pedal powered cinemas to Gap Golf.  In 2014 this has continued with things like Dance O’Mat where visitors can plug into a converted ex-laundromat washing machine with their own iPod, phone or MP3 player headphones, activate the power and get dancing in the street for just $2

And every visitor has to see the cardboard cathedral designed by renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. It might be planned that it lasts just fifty years but I can see it being preserved and lasting much longer if it can be for it is now a symbol of how Christchurch took on the earthquake consequences, said to hell with it and got on with their lives.

And whilst the infrastructure gets back into place, the arts are reflecting the way Christchurch has altered from a slightly sleepy city  where most of us only knew it as a cricketing and rugby venue into a very vibrant phoenix

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