Fridge a magnet for book-lovers

COLD COMFORT: The book exchange fridge will remain on the site on the corner of Kilmore and Barbadoes Streets for two to three months.
COLD COMFORT: The book exchange fridge will remain on the site on the corner of Kilmore and Barbadoes Streets for two to three months.

Christchurch residents seeking words of wisdom, solace and encouragement need go no further than the fridge.

In a city where the concept of normal has been turned upside down, a glass-fronted fridge has been turned into what could be the smallest book exchange in the world.

Crammed with books, the fridge sits on a cleared site on the corner of Barbadoes and Kilmore Streets, and anyone can go along with a book and exchange it for another.

And with many of Christchurch's libraries still closed, it is proving very popular with locals.

The fridge is the latest in a series of temporary projects created by the Gap Filler arts initiative, which aims to bring life and activity to the vacant spaces around Christchurch created as a result of the earthquakes.

Last month Christchurch City Council agreed to give $100,000 to Gap Filler and Greening the Rubble to fund at least eight more temporary urban regeneration projects.

Both organisations have relied largely on the generosity of volunteers to get projects off the ground but Gap Filler co-founder Coralie Winn said relying on goodwill was not sustainable in the longer term.

"Funding like this is a huge relief," said Winn. "Our projects are an important part of this city's recovery. Vacant space is bad news for any city.

"By activating some of the gaps created by the quakes with temporary projects for public use and benefit, we are engaging and involving the community in their city here and now."

Gap Filler Trust chairman Ryan Reynolds said the fact the council was prepared to fund temporary urban regeneration projects was very encouraging: "We take it as a clear sign that there's a desire to promote experimentation and not just unveil one monolithic grand solution to the rebuild.

"With smaller-scale temporary projects, the community gets to try out new ideas. Some might disappoint, but a failure on this level costs very little time and money, and can help avoid a much costlier failure on a grand scale."

One of the next Gap Fillers could involve a team from a Melbourne university's design and architecture department creating a miniature version of that city's highly successful Laneways developments, as a way of understanding its appeal.

Sunday Star Times