Microhouse hopes to offer home to start-ups

EYE-CATCHING: The microhouse, on Peterborough St, will be let on a rolling monthly basis.
John Kirk-Anderson/Fairfax NZ

EYE-CATCHING: The microhouse, on Peterborough St, will be let on a rolling monthly basis.

A regeneration group hopes to retain Christchurch entrepreneurs and artists with its central-city microhouse.

Life in Vacant Spaces (Livs) has put up a 10-square-metre structure, which will be let on a rolling monthly basis on the former convention centre site on Peterborough St. 

The site, owned by Christchurch City Council's management company, VBase, is for sale but Livs was granted permission to use it temporarily.

COSY: Brie Sherow at the 10-square-metre microhouse.
John Kirk-Anderson/Fairfax NZ

COSY: Brie Sherow at the 10-square-metre microhouse.

Livs' Brie Sherow said the first round of proposals mainly attracted artists and community groups but the group was hoping to provide the space for a local start-up to trial their business idea.

"I think it's hugely important that we continue to ease the barriers for entrepreneurs and their start-up ventures, otherwise we'll risk losing them. 

"We want to make sure that Christchurch remains the sort of place where anything can happen."

Created by architectural designers at The Living Box, the microhouse is clad with treated timber and is fully insulated and double-glazed. It has wi-fi and a power connection.

Sherow said a growing number of Christchurch entrepreneurs and artists were seeking long-term sites to incubate new business ideas. 

Cr Paul Lonsdale said finding space for budding entrepreneurs and artists on a budget in the central city was "always going to be a challenge".

"It all comes down to funding and funds are tight, that's the problem," he said.

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The council was doing as much as possible to support groups like Livs and Gap Filler, Lonsdale said.

Since November 2012, Livs has received 257 project submissions and requests for sites and other support. It has brokered access to 112 projects on 40 different sites and vacant buildings, mostly in the central city.

Of the 112 projects, 88 per cent used no structure or a temporary installation, like a marquee. Only 6 per cent used indoor space and another 6 per cent have involved placing or constructing a semi-permanent building on a vacant site to create indoor space.

Centre of Contemporary Art (CoCa) gallery manager Claire Baker applied to use the house for a week in March. CoCa is being repaired and will reopen later this year.

Baker said the space on Peterborough St would be good to connect with people passing by.

"We want to share what we're doing and get the public excited about the gallery reopening," she said.

 - The Press

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