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Christchurch designer in town this weekend

THE man behind some of Christchurch’s most innovative post-quake urban design projects will be here this weekend to share ways of getting more community input into council design decisions.

One of the creators of the Christchurch urban regeneration initiative Gap Filler, Dr Ryan Reynolds will be in Gisborne for a free public presentation, at 7pm this Sunday at The Dome.

Gap Filler was initially formed in response to the September 2010 earthquake in Christchurch, then expanded after the February 2011 quake.

Dr Reynolds said Gap Filler representatives were in the North Island and decided to extend their trip, so they could share their experiences and learn more about “place-making” initiatives across the country.

“So we contacted North Island councils, and some of the planners in Gisborne were quite interested.

“Mostly, I’ll be talking about our 6-year journey creating 70+ civic projects in Christchurch, starting very small but now partnering with government planning agencies and big developers to help achieve better outcomes for the community.

“The process of local government long-term planning tends to be very much focused on major physical infrastructure projects, which usually develop with little to no community input or involvement until the very late stages. Through sharing our work and experiences in Christchurch, we hope to show that there are opportunities to support smaller-scale community-led projects, with a focus on people and ’social infrastructure’, as part of the planning process. There are even many ways to involve communities better in big infrastructure projects.”

Gap Filler was formed following the Christchurch earthquake to create initiatives that temporarily activate vacant sites with cool and creative projects to make for a more interesting and vibrant city.

Gap Filler projects to-date have ranged from week-long installations to a fully consented temporary building (made out of borrowed pallets) that hosted hundreds of events; a bicycle-powered cinema; an outdoor coin-operated dance floor; a city-wide mini golf course; a temporary public sauna; large scale mural works; a portable 40-seat grandstand - and even a giant arcade game on the side of a building.

“People who have the desire to create energetic and lively spaces in your community should attend these events,” GDC planning and development group manager Nedine Thatcher-Swann said.

“Our communities are creative and innovative and these practical workshops will be a fun way to think about how we can bring public spaces together with creative arts, activities and collaboration amongst volunteers entrepreneurs, retailers and customers.

“We encourage local community groups, artists, businesses, landowners, librarians, designers, students, teachers, and dancers – anyone with an idea and initiative to attend the public presentation.”

People could register their interest in the free event by emailing comms@gdc.govt.nz. Limited spaces to attend a facilitated workshop with Dr Reynolds on Monday and Tuesday are also available.