Press Release: University of Auckland NICAI
Learning through the Christchurch rebuild
A special summer school project saw Architecture students helping to get the Garden City back on its feet.
Third and fourth year Architecture students spent four weeks in Christchurch this January as part of an annual summer school event with a dual purpose - providing support to the city as it re-develops, and to give students a real-world example of reconstruction.
"The reconstruction of a city is a unique situation, and this is an attractive and stimulating opportunity for the students to contribute with ideas on such a level," says Senior Lecturer Alessandro Melis, who alongside Senior Lecturer Michael Milojevic, was one accompanying academics. The project included architecture and planning programmes at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) and Victoria University of Wellington, allowing for an exchange of ideas and networking amongst the next generation of architects.
Through consultation with Christchurch City Council, the students were allocated an area south of the city known as the 'South Frame', a part of the urban plan still up for discussion. Within the month, students developed a single project proposal for mixed use medium density buildings. Lectures and critiques from representatives of the Council, architects involved in the live projects and other associated organisations allowed the students to gain a deeper insight into the new direction of Christchurch.
The group was also joined by 14 students from the University of Applied Arts Vienna, with whom NICAI has an international partnership. These students produced a scale map of the city centre through materials gathered across the city, such as bricks, carpet and debris, and invited members of the public to move items to 'recreate' the city themselves. This area also provided furniture, a playground and a kitchen to encourage social interaction.
The Vienese students had support from the Regional Government of Sardinia for their trip to Christchurch, and Alessandro notes that Italian news outlets picked up on the project, with it featuring on television and in newspapers. "It was positive not only for our University, but also to make the world aware of what happened in 2011, and what is happening now."
The project was part of a wider Studio Christchurch research initiative for architecture and related disciplines. Alessandro believes its value is clear beyond academia. "The project represents the city beyond the point of view of the developers; it's about making the city more livable and sustainable for the people of Christchurch."