Filling gaps in the deep south

Invercargill City Council community development manager Mary Napper, walks past an empty building on Don St, ahead of ...
Kavinda Herath/Fairfax NX

Invercargill City Council community development manager Mary Napper, walks past an empty building on Don St, ahead of Gap Filler workshops to be held next week. The workshops aim to inspire people to come up with ideas for temporary installations for empty buildings or sections in the region.

Southland residents will have a chance to brainstorm ideas to temporarily fill empty spaces at workshops held by an expert on the topic.

Gap Filler co-founder and development Director Ryan Reynolds will be in Winton and Invercargill next week to introduce the idea of using empty buildings and unloved spaces for new, temporary purposes at three workshops.

Invercargill City Council community development manager Mary Napper said the council was constantly fielding inquiries from people who were interested in using empty spaces for something special.

Christchurch Gap Filler co-founder Ryan Reynolds.
Stacy Squires

Christchurch Gap Filler co-founder Ryan Reynolds.

Gap Filler had also reached out to propose coming to the deep south, she said.

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Gap Filler is Christchurch-based, and is described as "a creative urban regeneration initiative".

Reynolds was one of three volunteers who started Gap Filler after the September 2010 Christchurch earthquake. 

Their first project utilised private-owned land – where a restaurant had been demolished in the city – and turned it into a public space with fake grass and cheap furniture.

Since then, the Gap Filler team has co-ordinated projects which have utilised empty buildings and unloved spaces in and around the city.

Reynolds will introduce the concept to the Southland community during the introductory workshops with a final, more advanced workshop for members of the public who have a definite idea or space they want to use.

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Napper said the workshops were not about finding permanent uses for empty buildings, but about innovation and coming up with "exciting temporary things".

Many of those ideas were likely to have an art theme, but could be as simple as planting an empty section with wildflowers, she said.

Some of the people who had already registered were interested in community gardens.

About 25 people had registered for the Invercargill workshop, to be held at the Invercargill Workingmen's Club from 9am on Wednesday, while the Winton workshop, to be held at the Salvation Army Auditiorium from 6pm on Tuesday, had not had many people register yet, she said.

About 14 groups had registered for the advanced 'developing your project' workshop to be held at the Invercargill Workingmen's Club from 12.30pm on Wednesday.

 - Stuff

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