Where there's a Will
The English rugby team will play three tests in New Zealand this month, none of them in Christchurch. Instead, we get a mid-week match between the English B and Crusaders B teams (it could still be great game, I've got tickets in The Lair).
Have we arrived at our future: Christchurch gets fewer test matches and against lesser opponents because we haven't got a good and big enough rugby stadium? It's a good time to reflect on whether that matters.
Should we invest about $300 million in a rectangular, roofed stadium in central Christchurch, as per the Blueprint and the cost sharing agreement, so we get the big matches (and big concerts)? Or should we aim for something more affordable and accept we'll see less of the national squad?
We were already falling behind before the earthquakes.
I have analysed every All Black home match 1999 to 2014 - 16 years - and the pattern is that Auckland gets about two tests a year - 28 in total - and fair enough.
If you believe that the Canterbury rebuild isn't working, then you might think that a different earthquake recovery minister could do better. You might hope that prime minister shuffles his cabinet after the election and replaces Gerry Brownlee with... well who?
The subject of this blog isn't whether National will win the election or whether Brownlee should go, but rather the entirely pragmatic matter of who might replace him. He won't be replaced, after all, if there's not a solid successor.
First let's look at the attributes the job needs:
SENIORITY AND GRAVITAS
The EQ minister has to command respect around the cabinet table and within the National Party caucus. He or she has to win most of the important internal debates and get (or protect) the needed funding. As the senior MP from Canterbury and a senior cabinet minister, Brownlee has seemingly done that. A lesser figure might not.
Before the earthquakes, Christchurch had a functioning and effective cultural precinct.
It included the Arts Centre, Canterbury Museum, the Art Gallery and the Botanic Gardens, all of them west of Durham St/Cambridge Tce.
The 100-day Blueprint of 2012 ignored that cultural collection and proposed a performing arts precinct east of the Avon River. That proposal was seriously wounded by Christchurch City Council's decision to retain and repair Town Hall.
The Canterbury Earthquakes Recovery Authority and CCC should now drop the performing arts precinct altogether, return the cultural precinct to full glory and site whatever new performing arts buildings are needed somewhere between the Town Hall and the hospital.
This proposal will strand the Isaac Theatre Royal, one of the anchors of the proposed performing arts precinct.
Anglicans should hire Cardboard Cathedral architect Shigeru Ban to fix or replace their damaged cathedral in the square.
Ban yesterday won the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered to be the pre-eminent lifetime achievement award in the architecture profession. The citation didn't mention the Cardboard Cathedral specifically, but the administrators provided photos of the triangular building that he designed as evidence of his excellence.
The diocese has an existing relationship with Ban, from the Cardboard Cathedral days, and he knows something of the city from his visits. I have no idea if he would be interested, but like the idea of 2014's best architect taking on Christchurch's most prominent building.
This idea won't please Jim Anderton, Phillip Burdon and others who want a faithful restoration of the old building, but it leaves to Ban whether to tear down and replace the entire building (the diocese's preference) or reuse some portions of the old building in a new one.
One of the problems Anglicans face is that the Warren and Mahoney concept plan for an entirely new building, see photo, wasn't loved by all. Indeed the concept plan probably drove people to support complete restoration because they feared a new building wouldn't be great, that Warren and Mahoney weren't up the job.
The second annual Festival of Transitional Architecture wrapped Monday night. Here are my three favourite events and ideas:
Three: Let's get earnest
Festa people are wonderfully and happily earnest.
Picture House, for example, was two-person movie theatre mounted on a trailer that visited the sites of former Christchurch cinemas.
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