Retro Sports Facility

October 2014 – January 2019

The name and intention of this project is rooted in the politics and the everyday experience of living in Christchurch. The name – The Retro Sports Facility – refers to the CCDU/CERA Anchor project for the rebuilt city, the Metro Sports Facility, which will be constructed in the next few years. Cantabrians are passionate about sport; it brings communities together. But in Christchurch at present, sport is a political issue. There are debates around the CCDU’s proposed covered-stadium and the loss or closure of facilities such as QEII, Centennial Pool and suburban pools.

It often seems that art and sport are seen as oppositional in Christchurch. The Retro Sports Facility seeks to make sport more creative and art more athletic and takes inspiration from David Cross’ inflatable Level Playing Field/Powerslide project as part of the SCAPE Biennial of Public Art in 2013 .

We sought ideas for sports of a ‘retro’ persuasion that could be played at the RSF. They could be from people’s childhood or from long ago. Ideas that we had suggested included jousting, sack races, Old Boys Netball, swing ball and tag. The first Summer season at the RSF was busy with the International French Cricket World Cup, Physical Fridays and The Commons v The World Frisbee Challenge.  We also enjoyed seeing the space come to life by having some sporting equipment available each day for public use. Simple enticements like this can go a long way towards activating a space as there are few barriers to use if the equipment is already laid out for passers-by to make use of. 

The Commons site went through a range of changes following the deconstruction of the Pallet Pavilion. After learning we could unexpectedly continue to occupy the space, we had the task of (re)creating a space to bring communities together in the city in a fun and inclusive way. Gap Filler was the site facilitator, overseeing a range of activities led by others such as a Food Collective, the Makercrate (maker space), the Arcades Project, Greening the Rubble plant exchange, two work spaces and community events. 


Project Details

Dates: Oct 2014 – Jan 2019

Details: The Retro Sports Facility activates the green space at The Commons (cnr Kilmore and Durham Streets). It features sporting equipment that’s available to the public to use daily and regular retro themed sporting events, as suggested by you, facilitated by Gap Filler and others like: dodge ball, sack races, croquet and more.


In 2013, the Minister for Earthquake Recovery publicly stated that Canterbury could become the sporting capital of New Zealand in reference to rowing and cricketing facilities being proposed for the city. In 2012, CERA was responsible for the incredible feat of constructing an 18,000-seat temporary stadium in just 100 days. This stadium, located in the suburb of Addington, was to provide a home for the Crusaders rugby team primarily as well as for other sporting events such as soccer. This feat was made possible by the extraordinary emergency powers in the CER Act.

Lack of sport in Christchurch is an emergency it would seem.

Meanwhile, the Christchurch Art Gallery closed on February 22, 2011 and was not open again until 2015. No temporary facility was been created for the gallery, which enterprisingly made do with a range of short-term venues in buildings and new innovative structures (like Art Box). In a city where art and sport are often seen as oppositional, the Retro Sports Facility seeks to make sport more creative and art more athletic. This project takes inspiration from David Cross’ POWERSLIDE project as part of the SCAPE Biennial in 2013.


The Commons is the name for the former Crowne Plaza hotel site. The Pallet Pavilion was a Gap Filler project built on the site from 3000 CHEP pallets by volunteers. It was on site from Nove

International French Cricket World Cup

Gap Filler hosted the inaugural International FRENCH Cricket World Cup in the Summer 0f 2014 at the Retro Sports Facility at The Commons. The IFCWC events coincided with the ‘proper’ International Cricket World Cup Fanzone operating in Victoria Square.

In keeping with the Earthquake Minister’s aspiration that Christchurch could be the sporting capital of New Zealand, we thought we should do our bit towards that lofty goal and invited citizens and visitors to participate in one of our favourite childhood pastimes: French Cricket.

Our memories of long Summers and endless games of French Cricket were a little vague, so we thought it best to re-write the rules so as to avoid any potential ‘international controversy’ (a la the 1981 underarm incident). Teams of two were invited to play in what will no doubt go down in sporting history. The tournament ran for three weeks from the 13th of February 2015 with Le Grande Finale on Sunday the 8th of March 2015.

Moustaches obligitoir.

You may think you know the rules of French Cricket, but here they are – Gap Filler style.



It often seems that art and sport are seen as oppositional in Christchurch.
Trent Hiles

Project Coordinator, Gap Filler


Play your own game, make up your own rules or use Gap Filler’s International French Cricket World Rules (PDF) 


International FRENCH Cricket World Cup Rules – Gap Filler Christchurch

Big Shot 2016 at the Retro Sports Facility at The Commons