The case for cul­tural con­nec­tion in city

Christchurch is be­ing urged in con­sider ur­ban com­fort in the city’s rebuild.

The Press - - Property - Sil­via Tavares

Christchurch needs to con­sider its cul­ture when designing its new cen­tral busi­ness dis­trict. That’s ac­cord­ing to Lin­coln Uni­ver­sity PhD re­searcher Sil­via Tavares, who warns that re­sus­ci­tat­ing the city cen­tre means not only designing ef­fec­tive mi­cro­cli­mates, but ones which con­sider how Cantabri­ans ac­tu­ally use their public open spa­ces.

‘‘Beau­ti­ful CBD spa­ces with poor mi­cro­cli­mates will be empty most of the year, as will spa­ces with great mi­cro­cli­mates but used in the wrong way,’’ she says.

Tavares ex­plains that while the term mi­cro­cli­mate refers to how phys­i­cal fac­tors af­fect peo­ple in a ur­ban space, such as be­ing warm enough; ur­ban com­fort also in­cludes how peo­ple adapt or re­late cul­tur­ally to their spa­ces, tak­ing into ac­count their pref­er­ences and tra­di­tions.

She re­cently sub­mit­ted her PhD the­sis on mi­cro­cli­mates and ur­ban com­fort in Christchurch, and has re­turned from six months in Aachen, Ger­many, where she was re­search­ing how the con­cept ap­plies to a cul­tur­ally-mixed en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘You can crunch the num­bers around such things as wind speed and air tem­per­a­ture, but ur­ban de­sign must con­sider the unique pref­er­ences of the peo­ple in the place,’’ says Tavares.

She says Christchurch risks get­ting the CBD rebuild wrong by not con­sid­er­ing the ‘‘how we live’’ and ‘‘who we are’’ as­pects of Christchurch and Cantabri­ans.

‘‘There’s been a lot of talk about mak­ing the Christchurch CBD vi­brant, but we need to be care­ful with what we mean by that.

‘‘You can’t nec­es­sar­ily just man­u­fac­ture a down­town Mel­bourne or Madrid, and re­search sug­gests that that’s not what peo­ple who choose to live in Christchurch nec­es­sar­ily want any­way.’’

Tavares’ re­search high­lighted fac­tors such as a con­nec­tion with land­scapes, gar­dens and gar­den­ing, and the coun­try as key as­pects of the Christchurch’s cul­tural make-up.

She says phys­i­cal land­scapes and the types of ac­tiv­i­ties they al­low help shape lo­cal iden­ti­ties and what peo­ple want in cities.

‘‘This may ex­plain the strug­gle Christchurch has tra­di­tion­ally had to vi­talise the CBD even be­fore the earth­quakes. It may not be all about the sub­ur­ban mall, as has of­ten been sug­gested.’’

Tavares sug­gests that the long­stand­ing Gar­den City tra­di­tion could ex­plain while higher den­sity devel­op­ment has ‘‘not been well-re­ceived.’’

She draws com­par­isons with Welling­ton, which, while hav­ing fewer peo­ple, has more hus­tle-and­bus­tle feel be­cause of apart­ment living. How­ever, this is not an en­vi­ron­ment that peo­ple in Christchurch nec­es­sar­ily want to live in, she says.

‘‘Low den­sity en­vi­ron­ments are such a strong Christchurch char­ac­ter­is­tic, and that is why many peo­ple choose to live here. We shouldn’t just as­sume that Cantabri­ans on the whole want

Cen­tral Christchurch needs its own brand of vi­brancy, a re­searcher says.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.