I’ve spent a fair amount of time eviscerating the response to the Christchurch earthquakes from he Council, CERA and Civil Defence. Some might think that my outlook is purely negative. I wanted to redress this balance by posting about my visit to the ReStart project today.
For those unaware, the ReStart project saw a temporary shopping mall built on the site of a number of demolished CBD buildings. The project sees a number of retail spaces created from recycled shipping containers. There has been some criticism of the initiative, both in terms of process (as an example, he two cafes involved where apparently unaffected by the September and February earthquakes) and the fact that CERA is spending a large amount of tax payer’s money on the initiative. So, my thoughts;
- This is about catharsis. I visited ReStart today and the feeling is one of residents returning to the scene of the horror. As such it is an important step in the healing process. Other than some time spent in the CBD in the week after February 22nd as part of emergency services work, I haven’t been back into the city. It was haunting to see food still on tables in the food court opposite Cashel Mall and to walk down the street where many people died under crushed buses and falling buildings. In the weeks ahead ReStart will move from being about closure to being about re-building commerce. But the closure aspects are important and can’t be overlooked
- The execution is fantastic. The ReStart precinct has been created beautifully and is a vibrant and contemporary space. I am a fan of container architecture. The use of containers, the use of strong primary colours, the native planting and the general flow make this project one which can be considered world class
- This investment is entirely appropriate. CERA have done the right thing putting money into this – both from a commercial aid perspective and from a perspective of helping Christchurch residents to begin to find closure after the event. There has been much argument about where money is being spent, I support CERA spending money on this and other similar initiative (such as the weekend bus tours through the CBD)
This project is a step in the direction of rebuilding Christchurch. That’s a good thing.