Since the 6.3 earthquake that struck Christchurch on 22 February 2011, I have been a reluctant visitor to the central city for a number of reasons.
Firstly it was the continuing aftershocks, each one bringing an adrenalin surge of fear and stress, not to mention many a sleep-deprived night (no wonder sleep deprivation is such a popular form of torture, it can turn even the most fortitudinous soul into an irritable, irrational and horribly fractious monster in no time at all!). I was simply too scared to venture into malls and movie theatres and any building over one storey high, in case there was another big shake and I was trapped or the building collapsed while I was in it. Then, as the months passed and the aftershocks and the shaking slowly lessened and we picked ourselves up again and said, what next, it was the shock and sadness at seeing so many familiar spaces and places ripped apart and destroyed or rendered utterly unrecognisable. I simply couldn’t handle the changes, the disorientation due to lack of familiar landmarks, and the feeling that I had suddenly landed in a place I didn’t know at all. Subsequent deconstruction and removal of damaged buildings only added to this disoriented feeling, as place after place became bare land, and I couldn’t even remember what had been there before the earthquake. It was an uneasy time for me, as I struggled to cope with my emotional response to the disaster and to come to terms with the fact that the face of Christchurch had changed forever.
Latterly, however, I feel I have made progress in achieving acceptance of what has happened, and realising that I’m not alone in feeling the way I do. Today I took another step along the road to recovery, and made a trip into town specifically to visit two of the new ‘landmarks’ in the city: the Pallet Pavilion (a Gap Filler project – http://www.gapfiller.org.nz/summer-pallet-pavilion/); and the new Cardboard Cathedral, which will temporarily fill the gap left by the damaged and now off limits Christchurch Cathedral in Cathedral Square.
Firstly, the Summer Pallet Pavilion. This opened at the beginning of December 2012, and was constructed over a period of 6 weeks from over 3,000 wooden pallets, plus other loaned, reused and donated material, with 250 volunteers putting in over 2,500 hours to build a fantastic venue which is available for community groups and businesses to hire. One of my colleagues had actually volunteered on this project, but I had absolutely no concept of its complexity or size, and to say I was stunned is an understatement: it’s much bigger than I thought, and such a fun venue! Here are a few photos to give you the flavour of this project:
That sure is one heck of a lot of wooden pallets!!
Don’t you just love the warning signs on the right?? And what about that state of the art crate seating!! 🙂
Cool ‘window boxes’, and look, they even have a fire alarm installed!
I think this is a stage area for performances – neat, isn’t it?
Please note, NO climbing allowed! 🙂
Just like any normal cafe, really! 🙂
Secondly, the Cardboard Cathedral. Work commenced last month on this $5.3M construction, with completion expected in April 2013. Much controversy has surrounded this project, with those for and against it being very vocal in their views on its suitability as a replacement, albeit temporary, for the much-loved Christchurch Cathedral. The cardboard cathedral was the brainchild of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who has been designing and building temporary structures for more than 30 years, many of which are now regarded as architectural icons: it’ll be interesting to see how it’s received once completed.
Here are a few photos to give you some idea of progress so far on the project.
I’m going to reserve judgment on this one: I’m not religious, so I have no vested interest in what sort of building replaces the original cathedral, and I like the concept of the cardboard cathedral, but I’m just not sure it’s right for Christchurch … or am I just being an old fuddy-duddy? What do you think of the idea?