Monday, January 23, 2012

Christchurch Earthquake Recovery

We arrived in Christchurch on Saturday. During Sunday night we felt our first (for us, I emphasise - Christchurch has had plenty) earthquakes of this year, 3 of them. Christchurch has had more than 10,000 now. New Zealand is a very active earthquake zone, on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", but two years ago it was thought that Christchurch was immune, not being on any fault lines - now it is known to be on 2.

This morning, before leaving the city, we ventured into the centre, or as near to the centre as possible. The Red Zone is still fenced off, with recovery and demolition work still going on. Hundreds of buildings are already missing from the Central Business District.

Some of these photographs show how resilient and inventive the people of Christchurch are being in getting their city going again. This "container mall" was, when we left NZ last year in April, still cordoned off. Since then almost all the buildings have been demolished, if they were not already levelled by the earthquakes. Look at the marvellous adaption of the containers to their new use as temporary shops and cafes; the use of colour; the setting of sculpture and flowers. And of course they are safe. If an earthquake happens while you are inside, it is best to stay exactly where you are. I should think a lot of thinking is going on about using the linked container principle as the basis of whatever permanent buildings go up as Christchurch is rebuilt.

In New Zealand they are fond of talking about their "Number 8 Wire" approach, which means they can make anything out of said wire, just a metaphor for adaptability. We normally take such statements with a pinch of salt because you hear similar phrases used in other countries and even individual states in USA. But I think the people of Christchurch are coming up trumps with their proof of the principle this time, with a very healthy leaven of resilience. Don't forget all this is going on at the same time as the earthquakes ("aftershock" is a bit of a euphemism) are continuing.

Any of these photographs can be enlarged by single-clicking on them.

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