Chch risks becoming a 'soulless city'

01:24, Apr 11 2013
Dr Jacky Bowring
UPCOMING TALK: Dr Jacky Bowring says Christchurch is at risk of becoming a "soulless city".

A leading Christchurch landscape architect believes Christchurch is at risk of becoming a ''soulless city''.

Dr Jacky Bowring, head of the School of Landscape Architecture at Lincoln University, says decisions relating to the city's future infrastructure have been too based on economics and are not taking the city's long-term identity into consideration.

''The pace of change has been rapid, and arguably pragmatics has been placed ahead of the intangible aspects such as memory and belonging.''

When the process of demolition was so rapid, it was harder to maintain a ''sense of belonging,'' she said.

''The rapid process of demolition challenges our ability to connect to places. It is easy to feel disorientated, almost as though we are in a place we don't know. Cities usually grow over decades, centuries. This allows for memories to accrue.''

Bowring, a registered landscape architect, will be speaking at the International Federation of Landscape Architects' 50th annual world congress in Auckland this week.


She will focus specifically on landscape architecture in post-disaster regions and how that was an important part of a city's recovery.

''Research from the post-disaster situation of New Orleans referred to sense of place - a feeling of attachment to a landscape - as a 'non-material' resource for recovery,'' Bowring said.

''Other research has shown that sense of place is an important component of resilience - being able to bounce back as a city does not only mean strong infrastructure and buildings, but also that we are in ourselves connected to where we are, that we can continue to love our place.''

Bowring believes Christchurch has the opportunity to start fresh.

She said it was time to decide what was needed to create meaning in the city's environment to attract new residents to the city and ensure Cantabrians remained.

In particular, Bowring would discuss the upcoming decision of restoring or rebuilding the Christ Church Cathedral and whether the Victoria St Clock Tower should remain at 12.51pm or return to working order.

''The memories that are held in places like Christ Church Cathedral and the Victoria Clock Tower are fragile, and vulnerable. Slowing down the pace of change will allow for meaningful reflection to take place, and for the significance of history to the city to be appreciated.''

The Press