Christchurch was severely damaged on February 22nd by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. As plans develop for its rebuild, the NZ authorities must ensure that its re-development implements the very best of sustainable urban design.
Christchurch is New Zealand’s second largest city, with a population of 390,000. The February 22nd earthquake claimed over 180 lives, wrecking whole suburbs and devastating the central business district where a third of buildings are expected to require demolition. Christchurch people are hurting badly and will be so for many months to come, no matter how the city is rebuilt.
While this is a time of devastating loss, it is also however one of opportunity: an opportunity to re-think the city, to gather local and international expertise in sustainable design and to re-develop Christchurch as a safe, prosperous, world-leading showcase for urban sustainability. It’s an opportunity to deliver energy- and water-efficient new buildings, seamlessly integrated transport systems and green spaces that are accessible, productive and bio-diverse - in short a world-leading example of the very best in modern city living, benefiting its citizens, strengthening its communities, nourishing its businesses and supporting its unique natural environment.
The many other competing agendas that the rebuild must consider (heritage building preservation, speed of demolition and rebuild, cost) are more likely to be balanced wisely and addressed transparently and comprehensively within a cohesive and unified sustainable planning framework.
This is an opportunity to establish Christchurch in the long term as an international destination synonymous with green living, environmental sensitivity and a great quality of life – a Garden City that Kiwis the world over can be truly proud of.
It’s time to send this message to
- Christchurch City Council
- the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority
- the NZ Government:
We, the people of Canterbury, the people of New Zealand and our friends internationally, want you to deliver a well-planned, environmentally sustainable re-build of Christchurch.
Picture courtesy of Mark Lincoln, nzraw.co.nz