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A New Era - A New Project

A New Era - A New Project

As our city-scape continues to change, organisations, traditional, radical and otherwise, must continually evolve to stay relevant; Gap Filler is amongst those at the core of this transition. A major question for the new Gap Filler Operations Director, Rachael Welfare, is how to continue building an organisation that maintains its long-term influence on a city, that helps to explore principles of experimentation, collaboration and community engagement, whilst remaining fun and relevant.

“Gap Filler has always prided itself on not only responding to the landscape around them but often providing the catalyst for change; creating events, activities and installations that are not only fun and a little bit quirky but also that help to address an issue and create some much needed conversation. Christchurch continues to change throughout the rebuild process, so it makes sense that we, as an organisation do too. Focusing on how we can continue to influence city-making in the future and create long-term impacts is an exciting challenge for a group that, until recently, has been considered short-term. As always, our projects will lead the way but we will be working more thoughtfully to address some of the issues we see arising in Christchurch,” states Ms Welfare.

Gap Filler’s first step on this new journey will be realised with its recently launched project, the Commons Shelter Challenge. Project Coordinator, Bec May, describes it as “A way to collectively and participatively design, build and engage with shelter at The Commons, a site leased by Life In Vacant Spaces where the Crowne Plaza once stood.” The Commons is an experimental public space that encourages people to innovate and trial new ideas; this competition is very much in the spirit of the space. The Commons Shelter Challenge aims to create public dialogue about different ways in which space and public infrastructure can encourage a high level of community involvement. Gap Filler believes such projects can actively help build a sense of community, which will help to generate shared spaces that a wide range of people use and feel a sense of ownership towards.

The Commons Shelter Challenge invites participants to make a design submission via competition based on a simple brief. In keeping with the organisation’s values, consideration will be given to the design’s ability to build community within the creation of communal space. Unlike other competitions, however, you don’t necessarily need to be an architect to enter; Gap Filler is encouraging anyone and everyone who is interested to get involved. Don’t have a team? That’s ok, Gap Filler has created a way for you to connect with like-minded individuals to create a team!

Another twist on the usual competition format is the level of dialogue anticipated between entrants and the public, who will ultimately be the judges - but then you’d expect nothing less from Gap Filler. There will be a public forum where all the finalists will present and field queries from the audience. The shortlist of designs will then be open to the public to vote upon, with the winning design built at The Commons this summer.

“The Commons is the city’s most prominent experiment in a community-led, hands-on approach to public space,” says Gap Filler co-founder and Strategic Director, Dr Ryan Reynolds. “In the recent Long Term Plan, Council indicated its desire to test other ways of encouraging more meaningful community involvement in public spaces throughout the city. The Commons Shelter Challenge is meant to provoke conversation and show that the community can be developers and not just users of public space.”

Design submissions to the Commons Shelter Challenge can be made online until the 30th October. More details can be found on the website www.commonsshelterchallenge.org.nz


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