Rebuilding Christchurch

Amargh Street, central Christchurch, in 1860

Amargh Street, Christchurch, in 1860, when the city was being constructed first time around

We’ve all watched, gobsmacked, the images of destruction in Christchurch and its suburbs. Our first thoughts are with bereaved families and the badly injured, and with the intrepid folk working around the clock on rescue and recovery, and restoring infrastructure.

But talk has also begun about rebuilding the city: what should be restored, what should be conceived of anew, how to make buildings which can withstand such forces of nature – liquefaction became a word in most New Zealanders vocabularies last September, and we have a better understanding of the underground cathedral of aquifers the city stands on.

Sometimes out of destruction can come the hope of a new beginning, and it seems to me there is a chance to make a city more in tune with its environment, but also maybe a world-leading city of the 21st century.

While working on the Te Ara entry about knowledge-based industries, from our Economy and the City theme, I was startled to learn that one person in every 300 residents of Christchurch writes software for a living. There are more than 200 IT companies in Canterbury, including Tait Electronics, a major supplier of digital mobile radio systems internationally (on their website they’ve been outlining their role in supporting the emergency services since the quake). Altogether Canterbury was responsible for half of New Zealand’s software development in 2008.

If weightless exports hold a key to economic success for a small country remote from world markets, then maybe Christchurch could become a centre custom-designed to foster creative industry? What do you think?

One comment added so far

  1. Comment made by Matthew || March 4th, 2011

    Someone’s set up a great list of creative types in Christchurch at http://chchcreative.co.nz/ to help get a bit of work heading that way.

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