Making a spectacle of Christchurch demos

03:00, Jul 15 2014

DEMOLITION CITY: YouTube member nzplatts* uploaded this central Christchurch flyover video showing the extent of the demolitions and the rebuild.

An internationally renowned visiting architect wants to make a "spectacle" of central Christchurch demolitions by giving the public a place to watch them. 

Venezuelan artist and architect Alejandro Haiek Coll, an artist-in-residence based at The Physics Room, set up a viewing platform beside Centennial Pool in a one-day experiment yesterday. 

Using a relocatable grandstand borrowed from Gap Filler, he and volunteers erected it on council car parks, facing the pool, and watched as more of the complex was pulled down. 

They used parking meters to pay for use of the car parks - $8 in total - and placed the ticket on the grandstand trailer.


''He [Haiek Coll] has been observing the way people stop and gather on footpaths to watch demolitions. He wanted to create a more formal place for people to watch,'' Gap Filler creative director Coralie Winn said.

Haiek Coll tested the idea at Centennial Pool as it was a ''significant'' demolition, she said.

The Armagh St facility will make way for the new Margaret Mahy Family Playground, despite opposition from the community. 

Gap Filler plans to use the grandstand in spring and summer for ''pop-up'' sporting events. 

Haiek Coll believed there the pop-up idea could be applied to give the public a place to watch their changing city, Winn said. 

''It makes it more of a spectacle,'' she said. 

Winn said the ''one-day experiment'' was a success.

Passers-by were interested in the idea, though some were reluctant to sit on the grandstand, she said. 

''We probably underspent on the parking, but we didn't see any wardens.''

Haiek Coll created the Tiuna el Fuerte Cultural Park in Caracas, Venezuela, and was awarded first prize in the International Festival of Architecture of Barcelona in 2012.

He is in New Zealand as the Elam School of Fine Arts International Artist in Residence for 2014.

In Christchurch, he is creating an architectural public art project, Public Machinery, in collaboration with The Physics Room.

DEMOLITION AS ART: Visiting artist and architect Alejandro Haiek Coll makes a parody of the Centennial Pool demolition, using Gap Filler's pop-up grandstand as a viewing platform.


- Newstalk ZB building implosion, Worcester St, August 2012. Hundreds watched as the controlled implosion brought down the building in less than 10 seconds.

- Cranmer Courts, Cranmer Square, October 2012. People took to the streets to protest the demolition of the historic apartment building.

- Copthorne Hotel, Victoria Square. The 10-storey central-city tower collapsed as contractors were working on its demolition in September 2012. Demolition was completed two weeks later. 

- Clarendon Tower, Oxford Tce, 2012. The February 2011 quake brought down internal stairwells in the 17-storey building, which used to stand on the corner of Worcester St and Oxford Tce. 

- Grand Chancellor Hotel, 2012. A 12-storey building is likely to replace the former 26-storey Cashel St hotel. 

- Manchester Courts, Manchester St. The seven-storey heritage building was damaged in the September 2010 quake. Demolition work began in October of that year. 

- St Elmo Courts, early 2011. Demolition of the 80-year-old building, on the corner of Hereford and Montreal streets began after the February 2011 quake sealed its fate.

* Do you know nzplatts? We'd like to hear more about their impressive video. Email

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