"Filling the gaps” : tactical urbanism in post-quake Christchurch




Adams, Amelia Clare

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In 2010 and 2011, New Zealand was hit with a series of devastating earthquakes. As a result, a large proportion of the Christchurch city center was destroyed or slated for demolition. Following this tragedy, a number of celebrated (and often city-sanctioned) tactical urbanism projects emerged in Christchurch. However, the 2014 Christchurch Central Recovery Plan explicitly defines these “transitional” projects as “gap fillers”, intended to attract investment and population retention while the real rebuilding is undertaken. While these City Council-funded TU efforts influenced social recovery on the ground, through the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act, the Crown government was given unprecedented jurisdiction over development decisions, including acquiring land, demolishing buildings and circumventing regulations. The hope is that expensive, large scale “anchor points”, financed through public dollars and public-private partnerships, would stand as a demonstration of the city’s rebirth that could stem the tide of depopulation and disinvestment, and especially increase land values in the Central Business District. At the same time, tactical projects were integral to the city’s plan for redevelopment, “filling the gap” between rubble and revitalization. My research explores the role of tactical urbanist projects in this effort to attract capital back to a devastated city. Through interviews and observation conducted in Christchurch, I examine the relationships and tensions that surround the use of tactical urbanism in the post-quake city


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