SoLA Symposium and the memories of what I have not seen

The relationship with a post-disaster environment is a strange and powerful one. I arrived in Christchurch on the 15th February 2011, exactly one week before the earthquake that would extensively damage the city and its CBD. My Christchurch and the memories I have from these past six years don’t include lanes or beautiful streets, but are a sea of post-demolition sites turned into carparks. I left the city last January with the feeling that my Christchurch will always be the bare ground, the open horizon line, the sound of machinery, and the skyline full of cranes. This was my home for six years, and now that the city starts to get back, I have moved on.

November 2016 is now half a year ago, but as I revise the paper I presented at the SoLA Symposium for a journal publication, the memories of the Christchurch I haven’t seen make their way back. The research itself was about the changing nature of urban comfort based upon three points in time: the pre-earthquake Christchurch, what was there before and how the urban fabric was; the in-between times with its transitional projects; and the emerging city after the event. The analysis was based upon some typical spaces in the pre-earthquake CBD analysed through photographs and figure-ground maps, and the proposed Blueprint and its newly built developments. Analysing the pre-earthquake streetscapes through the 2007 Google Street View images was the most beautiful part of it all. There was a Christchurch, a beautiful and somewhat walkable centre, and it certainly looks like a very different place from my home city in the last six years. The presentation of this research at the SoLA Symposium can be seen here:

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