Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rebuilding Canterbury #2: Buildings of the future

(Off-topic again following our recent Earthquake!)

So, the resurrected Mayor Bob Parker announced last week an Architectural task force led by "Architectural Ambassador" the eminent Ian Athfield: see

My personal thoughts:

- I love futuristic architecture (see the video above). I used to live in central Edinburgh and loved the historic buildings there too, but I always felt that the "heritage" of a place often stifles innovation and preserves an obselete past in aspic. The fact that everything is built to be (relatively) temporary here in NZ is actually quite enabling. (Unfortunately the down-side of this is too many lowest common denominator strip malls and big-box retail sheds...)
- We need one or more landmark "phoenix" buildings which commemorate the earthquake event and the optimism that we now feel in Canterbury to rebuild with confidence. We should leverage Christchurch and NZ's eco-image as well, and deliver a world-class eco-building cluster as an example for the rest of the world. In fact, let's make the Chch CBD an architectural theme park! Let's get our own Sydney Opera House out of this.
- The CBD needs more technology businesses: instead of building an "innovation park" out on some anonymous industrial estate near the airport, let's make the whole CBD an innovation zone, and a new type of technology campus in itself: let's get citywide wi-fi, hot desks and rent-by-the-hour office facilities. The majority of cloud-based tech businesses which we deal with these days need only a desk, a wireless internet connection and a good laptop. (And educated capital, natch, but that's another post...)
- The ability to renew some of the uglier older buildings in town (now that the Post Office has been transformed into CCC's new HQ: in my opinion that building, amazingly regenerated inside, really gives the city a renewed confidence), check out the practice of adding Building Skins
- Ultimately everybody realises that this is an opportunity to add to Canterbury's international brand as a modern, thriving and vibrant (ok, niche) business centre, and to continue to provide commercial and community facilities which attract more inward investment and skilled migration. Lots of landmark buildings please Mr Athfield!

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