Temporary projects leave long-lasting legacy

Posted 29 Jul 2015 by PRNews Popular
Posted in Positive

Temporary projects leave long-lasting legacy

Press Release: Lincoln University
29 July 2015

Temporary projects leave long-lasting legacy

The temporary projects which popped up on newly vacant land around Christchurch after the earthquakes have a lot more value to a traumatised public than we may think.

Dr Andreas Wesener, a lecturer in Urban Design at the School of Landscape Architecture has just published research on transitional community-initiated open spaces (CIOS) in Christchurch and says they have a range of benefits that might strengthen community resilience.

His paper discusses benefits, possible long-term values and future challenges for community-initiated temporary urbanism in Christchurch.

“Resilient people have been described as being able to find positive meaning and display positive emotions even in times of crisis, and introducing positive stimuli and engaging in positive activities have been considered vital in distressing post-disaster situations,” Dr Wesener says.

There is evidence that people’s participation in temporary projects has encouraged positive emotions and creativity, strengthened social capital, such as community gardens, and fostered community empowerment within a challenging post-disaster situation, he says.

“On an individual level, community members who lost jobs in the aftermath of the earthquakes reported that working on temporary projects had provided opportunities to cope with post-traumatic stress, remain active, learn new skills, establish new networks and in some cases job opportunities have been created.

“Even passive passers-by without direct involvement in community-led activities may experience positive emotions solely by noticing that ordinary people are recreating and rebuilding structures within a destroyed urban landscape.”

CIOS can provide opportunities for becoming engaged in creative experiments and ‘testing grounds’, for example by exploring alternative visions of future urban development, he says.

“Creative temporary uses of vacant sites in post-earthquake Christchurch also gained international media attention with a possible positive impact on the tourism market.”

They might support city marketing, becoming economic drivers.

It’s not just what is made that is important.

“Suggested benefits indicate that the process of creating the projects is at least as important for participating communities as the product and its use after completion. “

They can even affect how we look back on those turbulent times, supporting the development of positive social memory.

Just how they came about has been different too, when he compared it to overseas temporary spaces projects.

The post-disaster context that has shaped the production of transitional space distinguishes temporary uses of vacant spaces in Christchurch from other case studies in a number of key aspects, including planning processes, alternative agendas, acceptance of the temporary status and support by local authorities, Dr Wesener says.

“The open conflicts that have frequently occurred between temporary occupants, land owners and planning authorities in European case studies, such as those related to discordant development visions or anticipated permanent uses, have not occurred in Christchurch so far.”

He says the study gives cause to hope that community organisations who are able to convincingly communicate the benefits of CIOS may develop a stronger position among other powerful urban actors and successfully promote sustainable urban development beyond post-disaster recovery.



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