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CityUps brings life to Christchurch's centre

CityUps brings life to Christchurch's centre

The corner of Lichfield, Manchester and High streets came to life Saturday night with a panorama of fresh architecture, lights, forms and animation. The Festival of Transitional Architecture’s headline event CityUps transformed two blocks of central Christchurch with a spectacular city of the future designed and created by the next generation of architects in a Studio Christchurch-led collaboration.

More than 10,000 people came into the centre to regenerate the city’s heart at this free, urban-scale event and participate in a buzzing night out of colours and performances. Music came from all directions as crowds eagerly explored and interacted with the students’ luminous, large-scale installations, which were supported by twelve metre high scaffolding.

The students’ elevated, futuristic city comprised thirteen spectacular designs made with a variety of materials - from road cones to diaphanous materials. The creative transformation of vacant space with temporary architecture included a labyrinthine structure, a twelve metre walk-in kaleidoscope where new patterns were created by the public’s movement; towering sheets of lit up bottles, a canopy of floating light shards; a hanging wall of luminous and colourful ducting tubes; a multitude of interconnected, glowing strings and an undulating cascade of blue-glowing orbs.

These futuristic city spaces were activated with live performances and a plethora of activities. From koha haircuts and a bike disco through to live music performances tucked into nooks of the Daze Maze installation, the collective efforts of many brought life to the city for the night. People of all ages joined in for street games including tug-of-war, volleyball and ping pong; the dance hall presented a variety of acts that had people dancing in the street - from Japanese drumming and a Jane Fonda-style aerobics class through to the captivating Abacus Bhangra dancers. The bustling night market, busy food vendors and pop-up bars added to the warm and convivial atmosphere.

FESTA organisers wish to thank Studio Christchurch, all the students, local businesses and performances groups for their months of work leading into this large-scale event and extravaganza. They would also like to thank the public for turning out in force to support the festival and help to animate these creative and temporary city spaces. CityUps was live for one night only and all involved helped to make Christchurch feel like a city again.

• After a devastating earthquake on 22 February 2011 and the swarm of seismic events that followed, approximately 80% of inner city Christchurch has been demolished
• FESTA responds to the extraordinary circumstances and possibilities inherent in this by bringing life to the city through creative urban renewal on a large scale
• FESTA is the first and only festival of its kind in the world
• Previous headline events include LUXCITY, where over 20 000 people poured into Christchurch’s centre for FESTA 2012 to experience a city made from light for one night, and Free Theatre’s Canterbury Tales carnival and procession (complete with three metre high puppets) as part of FESTA 2013.
• Studio Christchurch led the CityUps event. Studio Christchurch is a collaborative Christchurch based research and design platform for architecture and related disciplines. The vision of an exemplary Christchurch rebuild is seen as a shared opportunity to bring together tertiary institutions, local industries, the profession and governmental bodies
• The students involved in CityUps came from the School of Architecture and Planning at The University of Auckland, CPIT’s School of Architectural Studies, Unitec Architecture Department, and Elam School of Fine Arts, The University of Auckland

To read more about FESTA, please visit


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