D216. Apr 3. Christchurch – Chapter 1 : Oh My Goodness

Capture d’écran 2014-04-04 à 09.06.10The settlement of Christchurch in 1850 was an ordered Church of England enterprise. Churches were built rather than pubs . Town planning and architecture assumed a close affinity with the “Mother Country”’. As other migrants arrived, the city character evolved, and the city forged its own aesthetic and cultural notions, often derived from the rich hinterland of the Canterbury plains.

From September 2010, the economic and cultural hub of the South island was savagely torn asunder…

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In Sept 2010, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake, strikes the city – In the early morning, when everyone was in bed, there is no casualty. But the city is hurt. Though, the worst is to come.

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22 Feb 2011: A magnitude 6.3 earthquake strikes again. This time the city wasn’t so lucky and lost 185 lives.

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Many aftershocks did shake the city later on:
A 6.3 earthquake in June 2011… 5.18 in December 2011… 5.5 in January 2012…

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It is difficult to give a good idea of the impact without having aerial pictures.
Basically, the city center doesn’t exist anymore. 1 block out of three of four is nothing but ruins. And there is no business anymore there.

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This advertising company – right side of the building – reopened in a new business district not that far from here. And suburban malls hosted the devastated shops and restaurants…

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Capture d’écran 2014-04-04 à 09.29.42The cathedral was also severely impacted. According to a volunteer, who was hosting an exhibition of pictures showing the crashed buildings of the city, the cathedral might not be fixed.

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According to her, that’s because the archbishop is Canadian, and doesn’t care about Christchurch’ soul and wants a new cathedral, with her own footprint.

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Well. When you see the damages, you can understand there might be some reluctance to fix the cathedral… It might be worth building a new one from scratch…

Capture d’écran 2014-04-04 à 09.13.08In the meantime, Shigaru Ban – the architect who design the Centre Pompidou Metz, a contemporary art museum in France – built the “cardboard cathedral”, that seats 700 worshippers.

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Next by, the artist Pete Majendie has created a temporary art installation reflecting the loss of lives, livelihood and living in the city following the earthquake of 22nd February 2011.

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185 empty chairs on 185 square meters.185 white chairs, all painted twice by hand as an act of remembrance. “temporary installation, as is life”, comments the artist.

Capture d’écran 2014-04-04 à 09.47.02Obviously, the city is grieving.

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A city that also proved an amazing energy and resilience, as I will tell in my next chapter about Christchurch…



1 thought on “D216. Apr 3. Christchurch – Chapter 1 : Oh My Goodness

  1. Amazing. Never I could imagine a such thing.
    What damages, I discover this with emotion, because it’s like a disappearence of a big part of the city history, its identity, in addition to the stolen lifes and a traumatism alwys present.

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