It is significant that the AASA – Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia (https://aasa.org.au) conference on “Applied Collaborations” took place in Christchurch in the Fall of 2015, not long after the earthquakes that tragically destroyed a major part of the city. Although the physical devastation was extensive and highly traumatic for the inhabitants, it was encouraging to observe that, after an initial phase of shock and paralysis, came an optimistic period of quasi euphoria, a revolutionary spirit, a sense that the city could be radically reinvented instead of being rebuilt merely as a faithful replication of the past.
Rather than aspiring to a reinstatement and perpetuation of the status quo, it was felt that it could emancipate itself from its colonial past, become a better city and, most importantly, that its rebirth could call upon the energy, enthusiasm, self-motivation and generosity of all its inhabitants and truly involve the participation of the community as a whole.
The city, while still licking its wounds and clearing up the debris, went through a vibrant period of recovery and utopian dreaming, a phase when it was felt that anything was possible, that not only could the urban fabric and its supporting infrastructure systems be radically changed but that its governing institutions could also be transformed, as well as the fabric of society as a whole. It was felt that this unique opportunity had to be seized before it was too late. The time had come for a major urban and social mutation.
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