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Architecture as a pathway to reconciliation in post-earthquake Christchurch

Abstract

This community-based and culturally-situated design research project reflects on issues of community empowerment and activism through speculative design meant to provoke discourse within the wider New Zealand community. As design-led speculative architectural research, it reaches beyond the confines of professional practice. It challenges the norms of contemporary New Zealand architecture by investigating new architectural approaches to explicitly reflect the cultural identity of New Zealand Māori. The devastating earthquakes of September 4, 2010 and February 22, 2011 destroyed much of Christchurch. While a terrible tragedy, it also opened up the city for fundamental community based discussion. The idea of a post-colonial not just a post-earthquake city emerged, driven by Māori design and planning professionals following the leadership of local elders. The situated community for this design-led research investigation is the Ngāi Tahu iwi (Māori tribe) of Ōtautahi / Christchurch. Ngāi Tahu professionals in Ōtautahi / Christchurch developed key design aspirations pertaining to the future architecture and urban design of the new city. The city rebuild offered an opportunity to present a Ngāi Tahu vision that reflected its place identity in the new city. The site for this design research investigation is the Ngāi Tahu owned King Edward Barracks, within the Ōtautahi / Christchurch central business district. This traditional Māori settlement site had been covered with a disparate collection of urban colonial buildings, several of which were destroyed or damaged in the earthquakes. If this Ngāi Tahu owned site (and the city as a whole) is to be rebuilt, is there an opportunity for its architecture to reflect Ngāi Tahu, rather than Eurocentric models? And if so, how might such a design embody Māori and Ngāi Tahu identity, while enhancing New Zealanders’ awareness of traditional Māori design, values, and customs – all within the context of a contemporary urban fabric?

Published:
Pages:143 to 156
Section: Chapter III
How to Cite
Prendergast, S. and Brown, D. (2017) “Architecture as a pathway to reconciliation in post-earthquake Christchurch”, The Journal of Public Space, 2(3), pp. 143-156. doi: 10.5204/jps.v2i3.123.

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Author Biographies

Victoria University of Wellington, School of Architecture
New Zealand New Zealand
He uri no Te Whanau a Apanui me Kai Tahu.
"I strive to enhance our sense of place, identity and relationship to others through the physical spaces we inhabit."
Te Ari has experience across all areas of design: architecture, landscape, interior, product and graphic/brand design. He has a particular interest in office design creating workplaces that are productive and also provide for physical and cultural wellbeing, with an emphasis on collaborative flow. I have a passion for Maori and cultural design forms delivering authentic and culturally appropriate design outcomes.
Victoria University of Wellington, School of Architecture
New Zealand New Zealand
Daniel K. Brown is Associate Dean (Academic Development) and Reader in Design Studio (Interior Design and Architecture) at the School of Architecture of Victoria University of Wellington. He teaches primarily in the MArch(Prof) postgraduate programme, and has won twelve teaching awards including the New Zealand National Award for Tertiary Teaching Excellence. A 5-year retrospective of his architectural research was exhibited in the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale, in the host Italy Pavilion, as part of the exhibition "Reflections of the Future". His primary research investigates how neglected architectural and urban sites can be strategically revitalized by re-establishing critical links to lost environmental, cultural and mythological imperatives. The design installations transform dilapidated or at-risk sites into rejuvenated public spaces by reconnecting them to their environmental, historical and cultural contexts. The resulting narratives are designed to challenge our perception of our built environment as well as its inhabitants.
Open Access Journal
ISSN 2206-9658