Students work to brighten city

SAM SACHDEVA AND FRANCESCA LEE
Last updated 13:28 29/07/2012
James Stoney, Winni Goldsbury
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ

RACE YOU: James Stoney, nearly 3, and Winni Goldsbury, 5, enjoy giving the new track a workout.

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Christchurch university students have brightened up the earthquake-hit city with a series of projects making the most of the city's vacant spaces.

A former cafe site on the edge of the city's central city cordon was among six vacant lots transformed into community spaces yesterday by Canterbury University students.

The lot was turned into a dirt-filled BMX track, complete with jumps and corners for riders to entertain onlookers.

The projects were narrowed down from a range of student submissions as part of a competition organised by the Student Volunteer Army (SVA) and student-run business development company Entre.

Entre spokeswoman Jane Wishart said the organisations wanted to provide a welcome distraction for the city's quake-hit residents.

''They're just empty sites sitting there doing nothing, and we wanted to help turn them into community spaces.''

Other projects included a life-sized board game in the seaside suburb of New Brighton, a street football arena in the earthquake-hit city centre, and a foam-block playground for children.

The competition followed in the footsteps of the Gap Filler group, which has brought art and activity to vacant sites in the city.

Student Matthew Girvan, who was a mentor for building of the BMX track, said the idea came up in a conversation between the SVA and Entre. ''The priority was for students to enter and contribute something,'' he said.

The winning projects were judged on their practicality and creativity, and all of them had to be achieved with a budget of $500, he said.

''Gap Filler gave us a bit of a boost along and helped us source land for sites.''

Software firm Telogis sponsored a large part of the project and Fulton Hogan provided machinery and transportation to help build the BMX track.

About 120 volunteers signed up to help with setting up the sites on Saturday.

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The sites will be open to the public for two months.

- The Press

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