Johnny Moore: Gap Filler criticism 'absurd'

Last updated 06:00 26/06/2014
Johnny Moore

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I was intrigued to see PR consultant David Lynch in the paper last week criticising Gap Filler's Commons on the former Crown Plaza site.

OPINION: In a submission to the city council, Lynch said Gap Filler was a backward organisation that should be forced off the site.

Quite what game he is playing I'm not sure. I would suggest, however, that if there is something that needs addressing for polluting the Christchurch landscape it is the excessive number of PR consultants. Sometimes it's hard to find any actual work being done amongst all the white noise created by relentless PR campaigns.

Lynch's forward-thinking creative idea for the site was to turn it into... a park, because clearly the council isn't burning enough money on the Avon River Precinct, not to mention all the other green spaces it already manages.

The idea that a site should be taken off a community group that manages it through multiple funding sources and lump more cost on an already financially unstable council seems absurd to me. As the owner of the other gypsy-encampment-eyesore on Victoria St I feel the need to explain where temporary architecture sits in our fair city.

After the disaster, a whole heap of excitable people set out to build temporary spaces that could ensure life continued in the city. The plan was never for these sites to be around forever.

The name Gap Filler sums the plan up perfectly. I've spent plenty of time yakking with people involved with temporary architecture in Christchurch. Everybody saw the flat land as an opportunity to do creative things that would never have flown in the past. If you could imagine it, it could be done. Then, when traditional development was ready, they would vacate the sites and exist only in memory.

What has surprised me is how long the need for temporary architecture has lasted. I expected the whole thing to be done and dusted in 18 months. Then buildings would go up and the city could get back to its old conservative ways.

But the need has lingered. The rebuild has been glacial. More empty sites populate the city than buildings and the people running organisations such as Gap Filler have had to adjust their plans as projects have outlived even the most optimistic estimates. So they removed the Pallet Pavilion, left the Arcades and made a plan for a new use of the site that would create a space where all sorts of community activities could take place.

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I will explain to the bilious critics how the situation works. Some people will temporarily occupy sites as the city moves toward being rebuilt. These structures will not be there for long, they'll be gone before you know it. Maybe they don't look nice to some people but the alternative is a bare lot or - at best - a car park. It's quite simple. If you don't like it, ignore it.

This temporary occupation has put Christchurch at the forefront of something interesting happening around the world. This should not be knocked, it should be celebrated. Before you know it the city will be back to its boring old ways. In the meantime enjoy the changing landscape.

People like David Lynch being nasty about a group that has done nothing but good since the earthquakes is mean spirited.

- The Press


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