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New Brighton benefits from creative design competition

New Brighton benefits from creative design competition
New Creative Quarter revitalises community

A forlorn expanse of rubble and sand in the earthquake-stricken Christchurch suburb of New Brighton has been transformed into a community creative precinct, thanks to a competition launched by the Otago Polytechnic-hosted initiative, Sustainable Habitat Challenge (SHAC).

The competition sought ideas for “micro-architecture” buildings created in less than 10 square metres, therefore avoiding the need for building consent.

Attracting 42 entries from professionals and design and architecture students from around New Zealand, the competition captured the imagination of Renew Brighton, a Christchurch community group frustrated that the earthquake recovery effort had barely touched their badly-affected neighbourhood.

“They looked at the entries and said to us, ‘Let’s make some of these happen!’” recalls the nationwide coordinator of SHAC, Tim Bishop.

The result has been dubbed the Creative Quarter; a funky and quirky public space that is perfect for New Brighton. It features an outdoor dance theatre complete with a movie screen, dance floor, shade sail, and solar-powered lighting and music; a compact bach suitable for use as a shop, office or recreational area; a flexible pavilion/exhibition space; and a stunning, origami-inspired, multi-purpose space with opening wooden panels for walls.

Renew Brighton coordinator, Rebecca May, says the project has had a huge impact on the local community, which is now gathering in the Creative Quarter regularly for film screenings and cultural events.

“Creating these structures in a previously abandoned public space has allowed us to see beyond what we’ve lost. Now we can focus on the potential of other spaces in the area that lend themselves to creative development. That’s a truly exciting outcome for New Brighton.”

The Creative Quarter was created during a four-day working bee that drew together students and staff from Otago Polytechnic and Unitec, Christchurch’s student volunteer army and The Concert.

By building small, avoiding costly consent processes and making use of recycled and donated materials and volunteer labour, the entire precinct was built for around $14,000 - much of it donated by suppliers, the community and students themselves.

“It’s a fraction of what is being spent on vast public buildings; it would have cost us nearly twice that just to get power installed,” Tim Bishop remarks. “The project has shown what can be achieved when creative, generous people get together and focus on what a community needs. These are all small, light, simple structures with no concrete slabs or L shapes that would be affected by any further earthquakes.”

The designer of the compact bach, Otago Polytechnic Bachelor of Design (Interiors) student, Rosalind Kirk, says it’s a thrill that her design has been created in New Brighton. “The idea was to create a versatile and relaxing space inspired by the gorgeous baches we see all over New Zealand,” she explains. “I was so surprised and happy it was named one of the winning designs, and it’s even more amazing that it’s actually been built. I can’t wait to get up to Christchurch [from Dunedin] to see it.”

The competition was judged by a panel of architects from the University of Auckland and members of the New Brighton community in Christchurch.

ENDS

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