About us

We are a creative placemaking agency operating at the crossroads of community development, urban design, art and public intervention. Creating the conditions for engaging, experimental and playful encounters to connect people to place.

Globally-acclaimed

Gap Filler is a creative placemaking agency operating at the crossroads of community development, urban design, art and public intervention. We use all these means to explore how to involve and engage people in creative ways to shape and reimagine the places where they live.

We make unique and place-specific creative events, interactive installations and other sorts of interventions to grow a sense of identity and make places more exciting, sociable and diverse. We use these experiences to inform an urban strategy and placemaking consultancy. 

Gap Filler is a leading placemaking organisation in Aotearoa New Zealand, with more than a decade of worldwide experience in activating the public realm with innovative and fun installations and events – and developing the strategies that underpin these outcomes. We strive to make the act of reimagining the world joyful, tangible and infectious. 

Gap Filler is an Ākina-certified social enterprise and registered charity.

New Zealand-based

Our testing ground is Ōtautahi Christchurch, where since 2010 our prolific and diverse output has invited people to experiment, engage in and reshape a place undergoing vast and rapid change. Our work has helped shift the identity of our conservative Garden City to “a city where anything is possible” (Christchurch City Council Strategic Framework, 2018). Drawing on this evolutionary experience, we deliver strategies, installations and support services all around Aotearoa New Zealand and the world.​

Check out our Portfolio to see some of our work and click on Products & Services to see what we can do for you.

Our Way

We typically involve significant others in the development and creation of placemaking projects, from inception to delivery. Occasionally, Gap Filler creates ‘propositional’ projects that grow from within our team and the reach of the project expands as it unfolds – bringing in designers, fabricators, industry experts and professionals as required. The public are the final benefactors, through taking part in an event or experience that has developed from an identified need. 

Our Vision

Healthy and thriving communities of active and proactive citizens working together to shape their places.

Our Mission

To design and create the conditions for engaging, experimental and playful encounters to connect people to place.

Vision into Being

We implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) remind people of their rights and responsibilities as citizens charged with keeping communities, towns and cities alive and thriving – and we provide more accessible opportunities for people to participate. Interventions are developed and realised by engaging with the people who care about the place. 

Gap Filler identifies a social need, a desire that requires a different ‘take’, a new perspective, a twist on the familiar that attracts people to participate. Through participation, needs are met, citizens are seen and heard, and the status quo is challenged in such a way that people come back for more, expect similar experiences, or are motivated to participate in future projects. Gap Filler wants people to be vocal and visible with respect to how they are represented in the places they live and work. 

We want to independently or collaboratively engage citizens in experiences of/in/with their places that has them say: “This is us – this is who we are; we are active decision-makers in our communities; we play in the streets; we are willing to try something new, in public, and we do that because we see others doing it as well. We seek the communal experience because it makes us feel good; we are alive to ourselves and where we live. These experiences encourage us to seek out more of them; they encourage us to ask for more, to ask ‘Why not?’, to expect that our cities, our streets and our public realm represent and reflect us, in all our beliefs and cultures.”

Awards

  • Ryan Reynolds, New Zealander of the Year nominee, Sanitarium New Zealand Innovator of the Year, 2019
  • Best Soft Power Activation, nominee, 2016, by Lord Culture (London)
  • City to City Barcelona FAD Award, 2016, for Eyes on the City as one of the top three global Learning Initiatives in the City
  • International Award for Public Art, finalist, for the Pallet Pavilion, 2015 (China/US)
  • New Zealand Innovator’s Awards, finalist, for Innovation in Media, Music and Entertainment, 2015
  • Coralie Winn, New Year’s Honour list, Queen’s Service Medal for Service to the Arts, 2015
  • Coralie Winn (Gap Filler Director and Co-Founder), Finalist for NEXT Woman of the Year (Arts) 2015
  • BEST Design Awards, Silver (Exhibitions and Temporary Installations category) for the Pallet Pavilion, 2013
  • Australasian Dulux Colour Award, for Manchester St Monopoloy, 2013
  • Tertiary Education Union Award of Excellence to co-founder Ryan Reynolds, 2012
  • SHAC (Sustainable Habitat Challenge) Award, 2012
  • Sustainable Business Network Social Innovation Awards, 2012
  • Resene Architectural Design Awards, Finalist for Dance-O-Mat, 2012
  • Civic Trust Award 2011
  • Mayor’s Earthquake Service Award, 2011

Gap Filler People

Gap Filler staff, Board members and the People behind the projects

In the Media

In the Media 2017
In the Media 2016
In the Media 2015
In the Media 2014
In the Media 2013
In the Media 2012
In the Media 2011
 
In the Media 2010
 

Our Values

We encourage and promote strong and flourishing communities, by giving people a chance to participate in creative projects that shape the places around them. Communities are strongest when members are working together.

We are leaders, expressing our values through fearless implementation. Whether blazing a new trail, keeping it in good order, motivating people to follow it, or telling stories along the way – we lead from the front, middle or back with clear purpose and intent.

Resourcefulness to us means a commitment to all R’s and full lifecycle thinking in everything we do. It also means valuing people’s time and energy (often beyond project budgets), and constantly searching for ways to develop community resources.

We value trying out new things and not repeating ourselves, taking calculated risks to lead by example. We challenge ourselves to keep stretching boundaries, and innovating in new ways to grow community in any context.

Collaboration unlocks creative potential. We believe in seeking out partners to implement ideas together, as well as cooperating to realise others’ ideas. We often act as ‘translator’ to bring disparate groups together, finding a common language and promoting shared understanding.

We esteem the spirit of innovation, exploring new ways of engaging, creating and realising ideas, honouring and promoting creative practice and process. Playfulness is our niche: we use surprise and delight in abundance, and try to merge optimism and critical thinking.

We strive to honour the Treaty of Waitangi/Te Tiriti in our projects, approach and relationships. We believe in honouring the stories and histories of our places – Ōtautahi Christchurch and Aotearoa New Zealand. We seek to always do better and understand that we still have much to learn.

We recognise the importance of mana whenua as kaitiaki of Aoteaora. We seek to practice kaitiaki tanga in our placemaking work to make our places and people healthier and better connected to one another. 

There are, these days, a lot of people interested in the area of placemaking. A vitally important part of what it needs to be, in order to be truly effective, is to know the why. Gap Filler have been a compass point for me since I started in this work – reminding me of the importance of humour, generosity, deep thinking and courage. Their ability to straddle strategic thinking and effective on-the-ground outputs, and everything in between, make them a unique and vital leader in this, ever expanding, field of trying to make places better for people.

Frith Walker

Head of Placemaking, Panuku Development Auckland