Christchurch a model of adaptive urbanism

BRITTANY MANN
Last updated 05:00 22/10/2014
gap filler
DAVID HALLET/Fairfax NZ

GAP FILLER: Dance-O-Mat on an empty demolition site on Oxford Terrace.

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International visionaries will gather to discuss the future of Christchurch's Gapfiller projects from Thursday.

A Christchurch City Council-sponsored congress on "adaptive urbanism" will be attended by delegates from around the world, with backgrounds in architecture, activism, planning, development, local government, academia and art.

Adaptive urbanism refers to the practice of a city's inhabitants helping actively create, rather than passively consume, their environments.

The international movement sprouted in Christchurch after the earthquakes.

Examples of its trademark small-scale, temporary projects are not limited to Gapfiller initiatives.

The include the Re:START container mall, the pallet pavilion, the Dance-O-Mat and the book exchange fridge in Kilmore St.

The congress was conceived of about three months ago by Gapfiller co-founder Ryan Reynolds, who attended a similar event in Berkeley, California last year.

He said he believed it was the first of its kind to be held in New Zealand.

With the rebuild well under way, Christchurch's adaptive urbanism movement had reached a critical juncture, Reynolds said.

"There's a lot of events being held around the United States and Europe where what's happening in Christchurch is being talked about, but we're often not invited to speak for ourselves."

The two-day congress had received $10,000 in council sponsorship.

Reynolds said he had been amazed by the response to the Gapfiller project, which began as a measure to create community spaces on sites around the city the earthquakes left bare.

Social media had been key to adaptive urbanism's popularity, Reynolds said.

It had led to a hunger for increased face-to-face interaction and interest in the co-creation of shared spaces.

It had been easy to recruit the congress's 66 delegates, Reynolds said.

He had had to reject 80 per cent of those who had accepted his invitation due to limited spaces.

The congress will be held at Press House, with public sessions around the city.

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- The Press

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