Gosh what a week it’s been with first the David Lynch article, now Johnny Moore’s and today in the ChCh Mail (as yet not on-line) a response from Gap Filler plus letters to the editor.

We’ve been interested to see the online response firstly to Will Harvie’s article on Thursday, June 19 in the ChCh Mail. Lots and lots of comments on Stuff but then also on the Gap Filler Facebook page. It seems mostly positive and in support of Gap Filler.

You can read the Will Harvie article here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/city-centre/10176887/Messy-Gap-Filler-site-should-go and all the comments.

Johnny Moore wrote a response article today in the Press, which you can read here, too. Add your comments of you’re into that… http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/10200390/Johnny-Moore-Gap-Filler-criticism-absurd

We were asked to write an opinion piece in response for the ChCh Mail which is not yet on-line. That’s a shame. But here is the text. We’ll put scans of the article on our website soon plus the letters to the editor that accompanied it.

Gap Filler Opinion Piece for the ChCh Mail
June 20

Gap Filler is a small, values-driven organisation that continues to play a meaningful role in the social recovery of the city, creating opportunities for residents to take part in the creative reactivation of Christchurch and attracting much-needed tourists.

Projects are experimental, and therefore diverse in scale and method, from architectural innovations (Pallet Pavilion) to participatory public spaces (Lyttelton Petanque Club) and designed and fabricated installations (Dance-O-Mat). In some cases, getting people involved is more important than how things look.

Amidst developer- and government-led building projects, there should be some pockets for everyday people to shape their city by getting their hands dirty. If we want people to feel connected to and involved in their recovering city, their participation is key. Gap Filler tries to make sites look welcoming, but recycling and repurposing is important, budgets are small and volunteers are gifting their time – so our projects will always differ from commercial or council-led developments. And they should: if a polished result is paramount, everyday people can’t have a go.

CCC owns the former Crowne Plaza site. Gap Filler holds a licence for the site until April 2015 through Life in Vacant Spaces, but CCC can give 60 days’ notice at any time. We are in a tricky position of trying to create a substantial presence – and social impact – with minimal physical infrastructure; even the Pallet Pavilion and Arcades were designed with their possible sudden removal in mind. 

Both CCC and CERA recognise the importance of this site connecting Victoria Street to the city. But neither have the budget to develop the entire site themselves; in fact, CCC is looking at asset sales. The temporary nature of our projects allows Council (if they desire) to pursue sale of the site while it’s still in use. The likely alternatives were an empty site used for car parking and rubbish dumping, or a large fence. Gap Filler’s activation of the site provides a short-term, experimental option. It’s misleading to suggest, as David Lynch recently did, that ‘they’ should create a nice park instead. Who’s the ‘they’ that will design, fund, implement and maintain it?

 Gap Filler is aware that The Commons site is unsettled since the Pallet Pavilion’s deconstruction. It is in transition, and will take shape over the winter months. We have been in conversation with CCDU and CCC over their hopes to develop the site further in early 2015 alongside the Avon River Park. These aspirations include a durable and safe pathway under the Arcades and some additional basic landscaping. Gap Filler aims to enhance and support these objectives with our own developments, and to explore how short-term projects can test practical ideas that may influence the longer-term rebuild. 

The Arcades Project, highly praised even in recent criticisms of the site, is a good example. It too is a temporary experiment, driven by two of Gap Filler’s founders in association with the inaugural Festival of Transitional Architecture in 2012, designed to attract markets and test a distinct pathway into Victoria Square. Such interim projects are increasingly trendy – and necessary – in cities worldwide, where High Streets sit lifeless and need everyone’s involvement to generate activity before businesses can successfully settle there, or Council city renewal initiatives can have impact. In Christchurch, as everywhere, it will take all forms – private developments, government projects, and residents’ experimentations – to create a flourishing city.

Thanks for all the support everyone…