– MARCH 21, 2015
Today we have ventured into Christchurch. Everyone knows about the devastating earthquake that hit on February 22, 2011, but it isn’t truly real until you see the destruction with your own eyes. Every architecture student and every structural engineer student should have to spend some time studying Christchurch as a reminder why seismic design is so valuable.
Four years after the earthquake, there are still areas of the city that have not been cleaned up yet. Some buildings have fences or shipping containers (or both) surrounding them in the event that they have further dismantling. Just driving through the downtown core will show you areas that are fully repaired, then buildings fenced off, then other repaired buildings. The stories about the insurance company reactions after the devastation can certainly make you shake your head.
The stories about the heroes who helped on Feb 22, 2011 would inspire anyone.
One of the most famous images from the earthquake is the Cathedral Square area. This cathedral had the front completely collapse during the event, but has since had steel reinforcing added to leave the destruction as a visual reminder to all not to forget that day.
The locals have done their best to make the downtown core alive again. Human chess, live concerts, large screen cricket game showings in the parks, it all adds up to human efforts to make people feel human. I was touched by the life and energy we witnessed while walking by examples of the great disaster. A remarkable city.
There are discussions underway today regarding tearing down the cathedral. Some don’t want to remember, while others feel it is too important. I personally feel it should remain and sometimes we need to be reminded why we design buildings…to prevent the loss of human life in the event of a disaster.
The sculptural pieces in the city are also quite impressive. A lumber tree design was too cool not to take a shot of.
Then we drove to the residential red zone to see what happened out there. Most of the homes here have been removed and open plots are all that remain. The liquefaction has prevented new homes from being rebuilt there, so many people have taken the insurance money and left for other locations.
Fenced off residential homes are still scattered throughout the red zone. The ground in this area dropped 1200mm (four feet) when the soiled liquefied. Sewers backed up and all infrastructure ceased to operate, rendering these homes unlivable. When the earthquake hit, everyone was on their own for the first 24 hours.
The residential drive took us out to New Brighton, which is a suburb of Christchurch on the Pacific Ocean. The picture below was taken as we entered New Brighton and the light just seems to dance in the picture. The right time of day it seems to capture a cool picture.
New Brighton has a pier that is 300m long, 6m wide, 7m high, with a structure that is 2m deep. It was built out of pre-stressed concrete in 1997. The beaches stretch for miles on each side.
There were surfers in the ocean as the waves came crashing into the beach. The end of the pier had a great view of the Pacific Ocean.
On a lighter note, we prepared for later that night to go to our first live rugby game! We were going to watch the local Crusaders take on the South African Cheetahs, but before we could do that we had to pregame in the pub. I had to take the picture below, as New Zealand has a very strong stance on drunk driving. They lowered the limit recently, so pretty much one beer would put you over the limit. Everywhere you look they have advertisements on being responsible and that the cops are watching…but this advertisement frosted on the men’s washroom mirror made me take notice!
Looks like even Batman couldn’t fight the law! I give them points for creativity!
For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.