The first thing that struck me was that Christchurch has become a
city of cyclone fences and shipping containers bound together by closed roads and detours. It makes it different and random, a far cry from the rigid grid I used to navigate so easily*. The destruction has broken the pattern, changing the dynamics of the city, and although this is probably more pronounced as the street closures move around it breaks up the straight streets and makes driving an adventure.
A ramble down Lichfield Street, once filled with endlessly boring shop windows, now leads to funky re:start (the container mall) and often you find a quirky café or shop set up on a vacant site. The building is a bus or a tent or a shipping container, unconventional and often colourful. The results don’t feel temporary, they feel experimental but they also feel alive. I loved it and it seems that others appreciate the new city too; the recreated parts of the city are clean and free from graffiti and vandalism, not so true for the broken buildings that are waiting for the wreckers ball.
*Christchurch was originally designed in England on a grid system. When the surveyors arrived to map out the streets they found that not only was the city planned for the middle of a swamp but no one had accounted for the fact that it was in the Southern Hemisphere so had to be designed for northern not southern sun.