The grim future : central city apartment living in Christchurch.
Even Mayor Lianne Dalzeil doesn't like what Fletcher Construction has got planned for  central Christchurch.

WHILE THERE have been many, many attempts to talk up the Christchurch rebuild, the good people of Christchurch are faced with the real prospect of living with a grim and austere and featureless central city, where little of any architectural worth has been built to replace the many Christchurch heritage buildings that were indiscriminately demolished. It is indicative of the paucity of architectural imagination on display in the central city that the corporate cheerleaders for the rebuild hold up the Deloitte building as an architectural 'highlight'.

This has been a consistent criticism of the rebuild. In 2015, for example, New Zealand Council of Infrastructure Development CEO Stephen Selwood said that the Christchurch rebuild was heading toward 'bland'.

He said of the rebuild: "I hear words like 'what a disappointment', "a fantastic opportunity lost."

in 2014 the late Jonathan Mane-Wheoki expressed his concerns about the Christchurch rebuild shortly before his death. The former Auckland University professor of fine arts and architectural historian told The Press:

"Bloody cowboys went in and bulldozed a whole lot of stuff that shouldn't have gone such as the Bell's Arcade [in city mall]."

A Christchurch rebuild 'triumph' : The Deloitte Building.
And he made this observation:

"...heritage anchors you in terms of identity.It gives you a sense of place. It's like looking in a mirror. It tells you who you are....What is happening now is that a whole lot of glass, concrete and steel boxes are being built that will be gleaming new for about 5 to 10 years but will start to look shabby at about the same time in 10 years....There is a "blankness, blandness" to many of the neo-modernist designs appearing that are "economical and compliant".

Professor Mane-Wheoki could well have been talking about the 120 apartment complex that will be built in the central city, a short walk from Cathedral Square. To be built by the unpopular Fletcher Construction, the development - excitingly known as superlot 11 - will be one of 15 'superlots' making up the east frame housing development of 900-plus apartments.

The apartment buildings are ugly, ugly, ugly - designed to ensure that Fletcher Construction makes a healthy profit but providing Christchurch with little to shout about.
Rev Bosco Peters.

I'm not the only one to feel this way. The Rev Bosco Peters, who is chaplain at Christ's College, has written:

"I am distressed and sorely disappointed. We may be about to create a future housing disaster in the centre of our city.

Expressed most strongly: Fletcher won the contract for all the houses on the East Frame. Is Fletcher now in breach of the plans that it presented which won it the contract?

Yes – we need inexpensive housing in the centre of our city. But inexpensive does not need to be ugly. Soul-destroying. Add some pointy rooflines consonant with the neo-gothic and villa heritage of our city reinterpreted for our 21st Century context. We don’t have to sacrifice the post-modern doctrine our architects seem committed to that we cannot add facades – but surely we can add decorative features? We can add some indentations and variations.'

The Rev Peters tweeted his opinion to Mayor Lianne Dalziel. Interestingly, her reply was:

"I agree."


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