I’ve shown you some photos of earthquake-ravaged Christchurch before. I don’t go into the city much and, when I do, I try to stay away from the area around the cordon. I figure authorities have enough to cope with and don’t need yet another person sticking their camera lens through a security fence.

But last weekend, hubs and I needed to replace our kitchen chairs. We’ve had them for centuries but they are on their last legs, literally. There are sales on all over Christchurch as businesses struggle to stay afloat. So we thought we’d go in and see what kitchen chairs we could pick up. Along the drive in, the devastation was all too readily apparent. I remember some of the shops along Cashel Street that are now buried under rubble.

I managed to get a shot of the Hotel Grand Chancellor, which is teetering on the verge of collapse. Its fate has been sealed. It will be “deconstructed” – a fancy engineering term for “we’re going to bring it down“. During the two powerful aftershocks that rocked the city in June, the hotel tipped over further. I could only get a shot of the hotel as we were driving – it’s not leaning over quite that badly.

I noticed a lot of shipping containers being used to protect the roads. The containers are placed between the damaged building and the road, presumably to stop any brickwork sliding onto the road and causing a traffic hazard.

It’s so very sad to see the Garden City like this. One of the reasons we chose to move to the South Island, as opposed to Wellington, was this gorgeous city. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Cantabrians are a sturdy lot and the city will be rebuilt to its former glory. It may take time but it will happen.

I’m just hoping that rattled Christchurch residents don’t desert the city en masse. We feel the quakes out in Oxford, albeit at less magnitude, so I know (to some extent) how Christchurch people must feel. But you move to anywhere else in New Zealand and it doesn’t mean you escape quakes – after all, NZ isn’t called the Shaky Isles for nothing.

Rebuilding Christchurch is a great opportunity for some clever design thinking. I was reading the other day about the iconic department store, Ballantynes, which is smack bang in the middle of the Red Zone. Despite being closed for months, they apparently have retained all their employees and have been pretty smart – expanding product lines at their Timaru store, increasing their online sales and shipping busloads of shoppers to the Timaru store for fashion events. Given this loyalty to their staff and as Ballantynes is synonymous with Christchurch, why not allow Ballantynes to rebuild first and design around this. You could have pop-up shops (aka flash retailing) for businesses wanting to start up again – temporary spaces for a few days or weeks. The pop-ups would help to build consumer interest and generate activity in the CBD again.

Anyway. Here are some photos of the devastation you can still see around Christchurch.

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