Elevated Garden City – the idea

The opportunity

The 2010-11 Canterbury earthquakes are an opportunity to create something special in Christchurch.

Imagine a garden city where we took the Manhattan rooftop garden to whole new level.

Given that most people in the CBD will not want to live and work in high rises, then this new set of low rise buildings give Christchurch the opportunity to build an elevated garden/walkway space that could become one of the world’s iconic cities.

Instead of the roofs being wasted space it would be possible to make the space useful and linked with walk/cycle ways.  You could walk around the CBD without ever crossing a road. Visitors landing in our fair city would look down on roofs of pure green. With new sustainable, energy-conscious buildings we would become the greenest city in New Zealand inside and outside.

The roof space could be used for:

  • Parks
  • Cafes/Bars
  • Shop fronts
  • Office entrances
  • Playgrounds
  • Court yards
  • Sports areas
  • Iconic wooden bridge designs
  • Slopes from other public spaces could go up the elevated gardens
  • Not all space has to be public could be office BBQareas etc
  • Taller buildings that look out over the gardens
  • Bird sanctuary – (no rats or cats)
  • Native forest – Riccarton park (maybe turn Latimer square into this?)
  • Bike hire scheme
  • Lots of other creative things

How it will work from a planning point of view

  • Every new building has to have half (or 1/3 or 2/3) of the second or third floor dedicated as open space
  • The council will create a network of linked walk/cycleways connecting the second or third floor roof spaces
  • This will be a relatively simple set of rules that would allow building owners/architects lots of flexibility and creative options.
  • Could start small in the centre initially but could grow long term to take in all 4 avenues.


  • Relatively low cost way to create a city that could become an iconic world destinations for tourists and creative people
  • Every building has an extra elevated street frontage
  • Ability to do something a bit different with each property depending on if it is housing, office, cafe, retail etc – creative options for all buildings.
  • There will be vastly more useful space in CBD not just dead roof space!
  • Can still use relatively inexpensive building techniques but create something dramatically different and unique when linked together
  • Easy to get started and can expand over time
  • People will be able to walk and bike around without cars in an easy, safe way – will probably be the preferred way to get around town on short journeys
  • Building interfaces will be standardized sothe bridges can be relatively inexpensive – only foot and bike traffic
  • Still has possibility for good urban density – backyard on roof as the concept expands to the out skirts of four avenues
  • Very simple set of planning rules that still allows lots of room for creativity but ties the city together in a distinctive iconic way

Concept images

375 Responses to Elevated Garden City – the idea

  1. Marky says:

    you fertilize the gardens…

  2. Marky says:

    Rebecca, it sounds like you would rather live in a small country town/village. Easy parking is not why the malls are popular – its the car free “pretend streets” that bring in the people (malls are popular all round the world – even without parking)

  3. Marky says:

    If you can build a 6 storey structure which will handle a few tonnes of earth, you can build a 7 storey building that wont support it for less.. Its a cool idea, and it would be awesome to see a couple of buildings like this (maybe council owned), but not a whole town.

  4. Marky says:

    The prior fault in the city was that you couldnt walk around it without crossing roads and walking round cars – The pretend street in the shopping malls has no cars and allows you to wander about in a daze, zig zagging between shops. The old Christchurch had been modified to give cars priority, thats why it wasn’t popular to go shopping in there. All we need to do is have a narrow street in the middle for mobility scooters and bikes + a large are for people to walk down the streets and some trees. parking should be outside the city (it works well when its outside the malls).

  5. Marky says:

    According to the map no houses in Heathcote valley are wet until 3m sea level rise, most of the houses are fine until 9 or 13m… Ferrymead park would be wet tho..

  6. Peter says:

    I’m 16 and I think this idea is awesome and would make Christchurch a place where I want to live as an adult.

  7. Julian says:

    Hi Grace, the simplified buildings in the visualization images are obviously not the final design that developers might use, they are really just to help illustrate the idea. Given the increased building code levels all across Christchurch post-quake of course these buildings, and the bridges, are going to have to be built up to code.

    Everyone in Christchurch would love to see the rebuild moving faster, and we are sure that individual land & building owners are all keen to make some progress, but the insurance payout process, and cleanup and demolition are such monumental tasks so I feel that we just all need to be patient, good things take time, and hopefully the new 21st century Christchurch will be a great thing, and a great place to live, work and play.

  8. Joshua says:

    In my complete and honest opinion: The idea of an “Elevated Garden City” is brilliant. It is an idea I have never previously heard of and would give Christchurch a new and unique image that was Christchurch’s alone. However; this proposal does incite many problems; including the possibility of the ground level streets falling to disuse. This problem could of course be remedied by having no shop entrances available via the raised green streets and only having the entrances on the ground level streets. This would encourage people to use a combination of the two street levels; as the raised green level offers a faster way to traverse the city and the ground level offers the retail ventures that the draft plan offers to those entering the CBD.

  9. Grace says:

    And are these walk ways between buildings going to handle another 7.0? Are these buildings going to be QUAKE PROOF or just pretty..:/ I think Christchurch people like the idea of the garden roof top but most of us are worried more about a building falling down on our heads or a random walk way doing the same. I’d like to see more on how they are going to make the buildings safer AND how they are going to start rebuilding our suburbs too..

  10. johno says:

    I find it odd that some people believe large areas of Christchurch are presently below sea level, yet they can see the river running to the sea, not vice versa. Go for the green city idea, hopefully these same people wont think watering the green areas will sink us!

  11. micah says:

    I agree with the above comments that Chch does not have the population base to have animated roof-top spaces – it risks depleting the streets of their vibe.

    I also agree with an above comment “why not green the streets instead?”

    The idea of a city in the park was propagated by Le Corbusier in the early 1900s. While an attractive idea on paper, it does not work in reality – it has been tested. The ‘city in the park’ results in sparsely populated open spaces that risk being void of activity.

    Active, vibrant, pedestrian friendly streets and squares – with mixed-mode transport, both public and private – are what Chch should be aiming for.

    The denser, more vibrant, European model of city are very successful, satisfying places to live in.

    Cities are urban – they are not the countryside. Let us embrace a well-designed living environment that embraces density – rather than trying to hide it.

  12. Julian says:

    Thanks Mike, I wasn’t aware of the skyways in Minneapolis either!

    I did a bit of research on it, which inspired this post.

  13. mike says:

    Daniel has obviously never been to Minneapolis Minnesota in the USA. They solved the weather, connectivity and transportation problems by interconnecting all of the CBD 1st floors…warm in the winter, cool in the summer and smooth consumer flow from store to store and block to block.

  14. Polly says:

    I think this concept has it all going for it and the article in the NZ gardener very thought provoking,thanks. I think cycle tracks and what about some where for artists to display their works! thought should be put into some new ways to collect visitors from the airport and transport them to the new innovative city so they want to stay and explore before going onto queenstown! We could do better than a monorail surely.
    Even skateboarders could be catered for,the list is endless all sectors of the community should be consulted and all interest groups really listened to, and I wonder if we even need a boat or two just in case of sea level rises!

  15. Jimmy Brown says:

    There is no expectation that every roof should support trees. Major environmental improvements could be made even with meadow or grassland communities established in a few centimetres of growing media. Just as 1/3 or 2/3 of every roof should be greenspace, then 1/3 or 2/3 of total green rooves could be grassland and 1/3 incorporate trees.

  16. Jimmy Brown says:

    Maybe with the rising sea level there is the opprotunity to add the Venetian element, and the gondolas won’t have to stick to the Avon!

  17. Lucas says:

    I agree with Mike,
    The cost of constructing a building capable of bearing the weight of 1-2m of soil (and also be capable of withstanding an earthquake) is grossly in excess of the equivilent building without the green roof.
    On a commercial front too, businesses would suffer by splitting the pedestrian traffic between elevated walkways & streetside footpaths.
    while this has a gloosy feelgood factor to it, a larger network of cycleways & green spaces interspersed amongst the city streets would be a much more practical & cost effective approach which would deliver the same outcome (albiet without the same wow factor)

  18. Julian says:

    That is very interesting Sally! I did a quick google image search for “kensington rood gardens”, lots of great photos. It is very cool and definitely proves the point, it’s very possible.

  19. Sally says:

    Erect walls to act as a wind-break? Some transparent for the view, some other materials for different effects (eg brick English walled garden, wood for a more natural look, etc).

  20. Sally says:

    Kensington roof gardens in London has lots of fully frown trees in about 1.5 metres of soil: http://www.roofgardens.virgin.com/en/the_roof_gardens/the_gardens

    I think it’s about 6 floors above ground level, and it was planted in the 1930s – so if they can do it in 1930s London I’m sure it can easily be done in 2010s Christchurch!

    I love the elevated garden city idea – it would make Christchurch a wonderful city in which to live, and also a travel destination in its own right. Brilliant.

  21. Guido says:

    Not only is it possible, similar ideas have already been implemented worldwide.

    Too many people find it impossible to think outside the box. For every possible problem generated with this idea, there’s a solution. And sorry that chch aint manhattan? Why not? Those ideas are limiting the possibilities and opportunity for this city to become a world-leading example, and an iconic destination greatly beneficial for our economy.

    I don’t think efficiently using spaces and being green is “picking up on a fashion”, it’s more old-fashioned then apple juice. And it makes sense.

  22. Elyse says:

    I LOVE IT!!
    What a fantastic idea to really emphasis the ‘garden city’ label we already have! I would really want to see this come into play!

  23. Yasmin says:

    I think this is fantastic! The council has been trying for years to find a way to revamp the central city and get more pedestrians into the area, the Cashel Mall redo was a part of that. Ever since the creation of shopping malls the Chch CBD was only really ever used by tourists, young people especially didn’t go in there. Rather than be wasted space I think this will encourage more people to visit and hang out in the CBD. Great idea!

  24. Phil says:

    The concepts looks great in an ideal world however does not actually take into consideration the Climate in Christchurch and in particular the harsh winters we have Southerleys, Snow, Rain, hail and Bitter Cold will make these spaces all but useless being on the top of the buildings where any body using them will be exposed to the elemenets ansd also in summer when the NorthWesters start to blow this will also whip straight across these rooftops. Remember flat roofs and snow do not go togeater (Remember the Stadium in Invercargill) all these conditions will make any use of the roof space limited.

    Bring the green down to street leel with the parks and trees where there will be some shelter provided by the buildings wrom these winds covered walking spaces around the shops and busineses, place Solar Energy and water collection on the roof top tree lined streets keep the buildings low rise 4 – 7 stories max so along with the tress the cityscape will be softened also with the green spaces on the ground maintenance will be simplified

  25. Karin says:

    Really awesome idea! Hope is comes to fruition!

  26. Olive says:

    I like that someone is thinking outside the square for Christchurch.
    Personally I would like to see a very green space, not just on rooftops but at ground level as well. It would be lovely if the street traffic could be re-directed away from the Avon River and then there could be true river-side cafes, bars and restaurants, perhaps even floating rafts in the summer like they have in Japan?

    Wide open boulevards with pedestrian only access and rows of individual little boutiques and eateries with car-parking behind would also be fantastic. Like an open air shopping mall, sort of like San Diego in the older parts. I think people would feel safer if there were open spaces to go to should there be another quake.

    Anyway, its great to see this presentation. Excellent graphics. Cheers

  27. Bunny Rendle says:

    Love it. Good thinking outside the square. Has my total support.

  28. Niki says:

    Love it!!!! This would make Christchurch the most awesome city in the world.

  29. jennifer jones says:

    absolutely fantastic! well thought out

  30. jorden says:

    love the idea think yous have done a great job

  31. Jorden says:

    i think its a great idea i hope to see it come true.nice work guys

  32. John says:

    Large scale greenroofs with intensive landscapes (ie trees) are possible and exist already in New Zealand.

    A good example is The Parc in Auckland which has a very large garden park built upon an underground carpark. Check out http://www.livingroofs.org.nz/page/39-Case-studies+The-Parc for some inspiration.

  33. Mick Buckley says:

    Congratulations. This is a great concept. If you manage to get it built I will move to Christchurch!

  34. John says:

    Well done – this opens peoples eyes to what is possible.
    Christchurch must rebuild with a clear vision that is desirable for residents and establishes it as a unique destination.
    I hope that this site has the attention it deserves

  35. Warren says:

    It worries me that this remarkable concept will not even see the light of day. Cantabs want a say in how their city will look but with CERA and Brownlee running things, I think this is all it will be, a concept and dream. Who is going to be the voice and driving force for the many positive people here? I wait with stars in my eyes, heart on my sleeve and cynicism in my pipe.

  36. Susan says:

    I love the concept and would definitely go back into the city with that

  37. architects says:

    Admiring the time and energy you put into your site and in depth information you provide. It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed information. Excellent read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  38. Ben says:

    If you can build a 20 storey tower you can build a 6 storey structure that will handle a few tonnes of earth on it.

    Moreover, it’s not like the rooftops will only offer pedestrians open space. They will incorporate cafes, open roof bars, etc (very, very desirable!) thus forming an area to relax after a day of shopping on the traditional street fronted retail areas.

  39. tamara says:

    this is great i love it bring it on!!! christchurch the roof garden city 🙂

  40. Andrew Male says:

    This is totally my idea!!! 😉 great minds think alike!!! very well done. i’m 99% behind this idea. We are “the garden city” for gawd sake!! – All i ask is you add decent lighting at night, a light monorail (maybe with link to airport) and then link the rooftop gardens to Hagley Park. if you do that, i’ll be 100% behind you outside the town hall cheering for you.. Nice one, take the rest of the day off..

  41. Julian says:

    I just did a bit more research on expected sea level rises in the next century.

    According to the summary of research information on sea level rise (found at the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia) the expected maximum sea level rise by the end of this century is no more than 2 metres.

    While a 2m rise would definitely have quite an affect on the Eastern Suburbs and suburbs like Heathcote valley next to the estuary, it won’t have much of an affect on the bulk of the city, particularly the CBD.

    This is definitely food for thought for the idea of abandoning rebuilding our low-lying Eastern suburbs like Bexley, but I don’t think it’s a big factor in deciding what we do in rebuilding the CBD.

    Rex, do you have any other data to support your hypothesis of abandoning Christchurch by 2200?

  42. Julian says:

    Interesting point Rex about the affect of rising sea level over the longer term on Christchurch.

    I just had a search for a map of predicted sea level rise and I found this fantastic site called Flood Maps. It is a few years old now but for the purposes of climate change effects on sea level that isn’t really important.

    Read this blog post about how the flood map was made and then take a look at the map, zoomed in on Christchurch.

    You can adjust the sea level rise depth and see how it affects the landscape. Once you set the rise at 13m+ the ramifications of your points become very apparent.

    A great issue to raise and add to the mix. Thanks again. This would be worth a blog post in it’s own right. If you, or anyone else are interested in the area or has some expertise in the topic (although a bit of time searching the web can improve your knowledge pretty quick I find!) then please register with the EGC site and get involved.

  43. Rex says:

    An elevated garden city – extensive, linked-up, multi-functional green roofs – this is a very nice concept, technically viable and able to incorporate many of the good ideas raised in the comments and discussion.

    Unfortunately an early comment has been dismissed and lost. Kevin King (March 18, commenting on Russel Devlin’s March 16 note): “Cathedral Square is too far below Sea Level to be entirely safe.” Antarctic and Greenland ice is melting and raising sea levels. The oceans are also expanding as their average temperature rises. This is a slow and inexorable process that will continue for centuries now, even if humankind stops adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere before key tipping points are breached. Without gargantuan earthworks most of Christchurch will be inundated. What timeframe do we build for? Is Christchurch to be a great city that thrives for at least several more centuries, or a great city from which people have to progressively retreat in the coming decades and centuries. Addressing these issues will determine how much (money, time, love, resources) we invest in creating a brilliant-to-live/work/play-in city, and the type of development pursued.

    I anticipate that, apart maybe from the hills, Christchurch will be abandoned sometime before 2200. Planning should begin for a very different urban pattern for the South Island (actually, for all parts of the planet). Maybe Christchurch reconstruction should be designed with buildings relocatable, either as modules or by deconstruction, removal and reconstruction. And with buildings self-reliant for sewage disposal rather than dependant on expensive and vulnerable sewer lines.

  44. Mike says:

    While the argument to create something new and beautiful out of the chaos gains momentum it is important not to let emotion cloud judgement. Undoubtedly Christchurch presents an enormous opportunity to create a vibrant new central city but this must be balanced with practicality. Having lived and worked in the CBD for the last decade and witnessed it’s economic decay at the hands of expanding and beautifully maintained malls on the cities perimeter. I see the situation as an ideal opportunity to address the trend.

    From a retail perspective, in order to make business take up leases an area needs foot traffic. Which during a Christchurch winter means being competitive with malls offering free parking and protection from the elements. A quick look at downtown Melbourne might provide some insight.

    From a commercial angle there needs to be sufficient usable space within a workable perimeter. Some businesses that have migrated to industrial parks are likely to stay put if the economics are right. However you can bet any newly completed building in the CBD is going to have full occupancy as business attempts to normalize.
    One elephant in the room that needs to be addressed is fear of multi story buildings. The reason so many failed is a combination of old buildings either keeping the same use or being unoccupied beyond the first floor so owners didn’t have to spend money strengthening them (when the spend was unlikely to be returned). Combined with the vertical acceleration experienced in the February quake that wasn’t factored into old building design. The best example being the difference between the CTV building on one side of Cashel Street compared with the IRD building on the other. Individual property owners are going to want to cover their losses and maximize lease-able space.

    Christchurch needs a heart but it is not going to be achieved by simply expanding Hagley Park into the city atop everyones third floor. Nobody in their right mind is going to want to work in an artificial cave while the ground underfoot is exhibiting any sign of instability. Putting that much soil and foliage above heated buildings will also create a haven for vermin. And the increased shading in winter will enable permafrost on the roads and footpaths during the colder weeks. Not to mention further undermine the retail environment in the central city. Keeping roads the way they were should also be given careful consideration because reducing access around buildings flies in the face of emergency service access.

    Prior to the faults presenting themselves Christchurch

  45. Brett Wines says:

    I agree with both your wrought iron, glass, koru motif and i phone comments. What I was really trying to get at (I think) is that modern society always want the latest fashion which now is i phones and i pads (but not pods). Architecturally, people tend to associate glass as the new “modern” fashion. Personally, I believe glass (and all those bloody spec houses people call “architectural”) is, on the most part lacking character where as real brick buildings (not those bloody specs) although have fallen over, looked the best, had the best textures, and the material just seemed real. And about integrating maori culture, don’t you think there is more to christchurch than the Europeans and Maoris?

  46. Caroline says:

    Sure there are many buildings around the world with heavy stuff on the roof. The main problem with heavy stuff on the roof, like waterlogged soil thick enough for trees to grow in it, is that it makes the building unsafe in an earthquake.

    It’s great to keep thinking about these garden city ideas, though

  47. simon says:

    The great thing about this idea right now is that it is just that an idea, being that it is at its concept stage this forum exists for people to express their ideas, excitement for the project or in matt’s case their short sighted criticism but thank you for posing your questions obviously if this project is to be realised then there will be many obstacles to overcome.
    firstly hypothetically what is the difference to building a rooftop garden on a multi storied building than putting an extra floor on the same building, the building would be designed to offset the weight throughout the building and i don’t believe the expense required to do this would be as huge as you imply, you wouldn’t throw huge trees up there as an afterthought they would be positioned above internal and external structural walls (like if you were to add another floor)
    The footprint of the building comment is rather silly as these buildings will be of similar lateral dimensions to those they replace thus giving the same natural light access, also I don’t remember there being too many glassed ceiling buildings in the CBD. Most large commercial buildings do have large internal ductwork. Personally I think working in one of these buildings would be a much pleasant place to work than the alternative imagine working in the middle of a city and opening a window of an office building to the smell of grass and flowers and the sound of birds.
    You and some other people also seem to be missing the point that far from removing people from the side walk and creating a ghost town beneath it this concept would create an alternative area for “people to have a cup of coffee and run into people they know”. Far from being an expensive waste of money this would give property developers a unique opportunity, it is common knowledge that the ground floor space of a building has the highest rent levels as it receives all the foot traffic, in this situation a CBD building owner would have two (possible three) floors that received foot traffic.
    I believe this concept would a be very exciting idea to develop for any urban designer or architect who remembers why they chose their professions in the first place, a motivating challenge and I some cases a career highlight for any engineer or builder, as well as a great opportunity for CBD property owners/developers and the council to recoup their losses after the quakes in a progressive forward thinking and accelerated manner.
    If every person thought like you Matt the world wouldn’t have one hundred plus story buildings, beautiful structures like the Eiffel Tower, islands shaped like the world… Some things are worth doing even if they might be harder or more expensive than an easy known alternative.

  48. Paul Holland says:

    You have left your reasons of why you don’t like the idea. fair enough and it is obvious that you have thought about them.

    However in answer to your last paragraph, just because certain people may be proficient in their field does not automatically mean they know everything there is to know about it and that is what you are implying. Yes, I like a lot of people, am entitled to write letters after my name having subjected myself to the rigours of a tertiary education. But that does not mean I know everything in my field. To say so would at the least be very arrogant and very incorrect. Why should people who are not urban designers, architects, engineers, builders, property developers and council be denied the right to submit their ideas? Are their ideas any less valid or less meritorious?

    I can create a very long list of reasons of why I thing property developers, engineers and the City Council planners should be omitted from the process, but I haven’t because it would not be of benefit to the discussion here. They are both my personal and professional biases. My points is this, we have an excellent chance to do something really specially with our city, so lets not exclude the ideas or input of anyone because of a particular bias or prejudice that we may have. To do so would be unjust and in my opinion dishonour the memory of the victims of the tragedy.

  49. bera laing says:

    love it yes please do u think bob and his mates would let us have a say

  50. Yasmeen says:

    This looks great! We need new fresh ideas going forward to bring life back into the heart of the city. Hopefully we end up with this or something close and not a repeat of the old.

  51. Julian says:

    I am no expert on this stuff but a quick search will turn up all sorts of information about it, ranging from professionals who do “urban tree” installations to trees that were never formally planted there growing on top of clock towers.

    It would appear that the way to do it is in a “pot”, which could be a custom component of the elevated garden city design that includes the drainage and sufficient space for the tree’s roots to spread out over time, scaled according to the size the tree will eventually grow to. Much like the idea of having a standardised design for the bridges you could use these to place trees in your roof top green space.

    It would be great if someone wanted to do some more research on this and add a blog post to the EGC site with some more details and examples. (I will do it myself when I get the chance but we are keen for others to get involved too!)

  52. Logan says:

    Um….a lot of trees did actually fall down in Hagley park.

  53. Popx Art says:

    Yeah lets make it a real garden city 🙂
    Lots of fruit trees please.
    More curves maybe. It’s not a biggy at the mo but i do like the curves.
    And yeah maybe just leave the cars elsewhere and get more trams and bikes into the city.
    yeah and leave the banks elsewhere too i guess 🙂
    Need more time to consider it buy yeah thanks been thinking about how it could be a true Eco city and ofcourse there’ll be plenty of people thinking the same type of thing 🙂

  54. Popx Art says:

    Christchurch Eco city yay 🙂

  55. Popx Art says:

    Yeah much agree 🙂

  56. SojournerSX says:

    I’m sorry? It’s super practical for winter/rain. Ever heard of drainage systems?

  57. SojournerSX says:

    Police persons on roller blades! Adorable!

    Garden City – let’s turn it into a 21st century reality.

  58. SA says:

    Sorry to hear you’re one of those left with a pile of bricks Ben. I agree with you about the greening of the urban areas…if they’re talking about removing whole areas of suburbs out east (so heartbreaking for those who live there) then make these areas into green belts, fronting the seashore. There has long been talk that Christchurch will be half under water in a few hundred years time due to rising sea levels, so why don’t we take the opportunity now to move the city and it’s buildings further inland, and if the greenbelts are in place, then there will be no loss of housing if this does happen. Take care and hope everything works out for you.

  59. Megan says:

    how do you expect trees to grow on a roof? no rrom for the roots to grow

  60. Rick says:

    Kevin King, just to help eleviate your concerns , the cathedral square is not
    below sea level. That’s an old wives tale originating from the use of a drainage
    board bench mark located at the cathedral.
    Otherwise I’m very excited about this concept. I’m sure details of security,
    safety, access and transport can all be allowed for and incorporated into this

  61. Lika says:

    This is a great concept! I am from Germany and have been a couple of times in NZ, and I must admit all tourist come to Christchurch for the heritage buildings. This is something it seems the politicians are not aware of. NZ has so many great natural things to see such as the glaciers, the alpes etc. that tourists are not particularily interested in cities. They are mostly only used for a stopover, refill and maybe have a decent party. Sorry, we europeans have so many cities around that only a special city makes us stay. Such as Christchurch was. So now the main goal should be to make it a special place again. A lot of great buildings have been torn down very quickly and I´ve been watching it with sadness. I am relieved that you came up with such a great idea that makes people return to Christchurch, it fits in the green and clean image NZ has for the tourists- and I think we have to admit, tourism is one of the biggest incomes of NZ. I can just say build the elevated garden city and there will be tourists from all over the world, and the community of Christchurch has something to be proud of again. I really hope this will happen!
    Best regards from Tai Tapu,

  62. Arlene says:

    Great ideas! Light pipes exactly what I was thinking!

  63. Chris says:

    1. I imagine that if buildings can be ‘quake proof’ bridges can be too. Snow proof may be an issue also with bridges and flat roofs mind you…. think of the predicted increase in extreme weather events and the Invercargill/Southland examples last winter. Not too common an occurance though we’d hope.
    2. All but two of New Zealands native tree species are evergreen, I believe, that should have winter appearance covered. Flowering species from around the world could have most months covered with at least a little vibrance. The
    3. How are these private spots going to be any different to those down alleys, dark streets or covered parking lots? Street lighting could perhaps be high enough to light the roofs and streets. Police on bikes could monitor the roof tops anyhow. It may make their patrolling more effective, on roof and road.
    4. Rubbish could be a problem but with plentiful bins and the attractive green decor you’d hope that people might change their mentality a little, if not they may just throw their cigarette butts down to the sweepable road…?

    I agree with your comment on the lack of aesthetic flow. Being a flat city squares are almost inevitable. Some nice flow could come about around the rivers, hills etc

  64. Wayne says:

    Why is it a great idea for else where??

  65. mike hornblow says:

    sorry but this is a bad idea.. green roof parks, doubtful.. just green the streets for gods sake.. added weight on rooves in quake town, bad idea.. and roof parks have a lot of logistix, looks like one of those archi ideas that looks good in 3d but in reality can u actually imagine ppl going up there when they’re all isolated mesas with no connections? no wait, lets build walkways to link them all up! yeh right.. cbd park areas need to follow natural pedestrian flows, this schema is pie in the sky with no grasp of urban ecology .. and guys sorry, chch aint manhattan, totally different context, esp now
    this is a dangerous example of what looks like a good example but is in fact deeply flawed, and it just picking up on a fashion

  66. Hay Grant, Roger told me about your site. I Love the idea! It is a fantastic concept. I wonder if the bridges between the buildings should also have interior connections underneath them to make shopping easier in town for the days when we have bad weather. But anyway you have my vote.

    All the best


  67. Jake says:

    @ Brett,
    Ok 45,000 maybe is too big a number. I used it more as an illustration of the fact that in my mind too few people live in the Central City.
    How would we attract them? Well how does any city attract central city dwellers? Lifestyle. You’re right there, right in the middle of the action. Surrounded by shops, clubs, bars, museums, events and, hopefully, your workplace is just a stroll away. In addition, if the government got in on the act, we could build apartment blocks that would be attractive, save, comfortable and affordable!! Let’s not make the “New York lifestyle” out of people’s price range.
    Suburban malls only hold sway because it is more convenient to drive there because they are closer and have free parking.
    As for wrought iron, it was merely a suggestion, pointing out that the tradition of Chch is as an English city. But on the question of aesthetics I have to disagree, some things have timeless class. Glass balustrades that I have seen around the place, that were terribly stylish back in 2005 when they were put up, already look old, dirty and common. Putting the Maori Koru everywhere is what is tacky, it is overused as it is and a total cliche and in my mind there are far more appropriate and meaningful ways of incorporating Maori culture into such a living suburban landscape. And I’m guessing you didn’t mean that we should have balustrades made of iPhones 🙂 Although we could make them of iPads, we should have plenty enough of the 1st gen models floating about for next to nothing now that iPad 2 is out 😉

  68. Jake says:

    @ Becky,
    I absolutely agree that mixed use is the way to go. I wasn’t suggesting that the central city become just a central suburb for people to live in. I simply believe that there needs to be more focus on attracting a significant number of people to live here than there has been, and less focus on office space, which has sat half empty for the past decade.
    As for Maori motifs. I am not racist or anti-Maori culture, let me make that very clear. I simply believe that it is important to try to get continuity of spirit when rebuilding Christchurch. I would like to see the English heritage shining through. Of course there is room, even prominent room, for Maori place identity, but it doesn’t need to be everywhere and as you said the Koru is terribly cliched. I would prefer to see normal, non-culture specific (and less tacky) bannisters and let’s say a traditional Maori carving, with some real symbolism, on each of these green rooftops. I don’t mean hidden in the corner somewhere, place them prominently, centrally even. Employ Maori carvers to make them especially for Chch and make it that each has some sort of meaning regarding rebirth, strength, Mana etc…Personally I think that serves the Maori culture a lot more and is far more meaningful in general.

  69. simon says:

    1. Do you think engineers would just throw a few bolts into these bridges, obviously they would be designed to withstand any further quakes they could possibly even be designed to strengthen the buildings they span.

    2. This question can be posed for many attractions in many cities, obviously intrest and users may drop in the colder wetter months but that doesn’t mean the idea is doomed to fail, also heres an idea, because there are bridges across all roads people may opt to use this space to move quickly across the city when its raining rather than waiting for traffic lights.

    3. How do the police, police the rest of the city?
    4. How is waist managed in the rest of the city?
    *both of these questions are redundant as this space will ultimately become an integrated part of the city the public spaces will have jurisdictions along the lines of hagley park or the square while the private spaces would obviously be policed and managed in the same way as your backyard or a restaurant as the private spaces would either be residential or commercial).

  70. Rebecca says:

    There’s two kinds of visitors to the CBD: people who want to enjoy themselves and people who want to go somewhere.

    This proposal would be great for the first group, no doubt about that. The second, not so much.

    For example, every couple of weeks I drop into the central library on my way home. Sometimes I do a bit of shopping in the vicinity. I park in the Farmer’s parking building.

    Suppose instead I had to park the car 8 blocks away, wait for a shuttle, take the shuttle 4 blocks, climb up a ramp, and walk 4 blocks to the library, going up and down a floor level several times. Suppose I’m carrying 8 books. Suppose it’s raining and there’s a southerly blowing straight from Antarctica.

    No way would I bother.

    Similar problem for commuters. It’d need to be an efficient way to commute as well as a pleasant way. For example, the cycle routes would have to be direct and mostly on one level.

    Kiwis are lazy and busy. We like things convenient. Easy parking does a lot to explain the popularity of the suburban malls.

    Maybe it’s feasible for the very centre of town, say the area bordered by Cashel St, Manchester St and the river. That sounds like the most munted area anyway. That could be a great compromise between enjoyment and convenience.

    I can see design/engineering solutions for most of the other issues raised. Gardens are attractive in winter if they have evergreen shrubs and winter flowers like pansies, stocks, wallflowers etc. Cold-weather cafe seating can be in marquees with clear sides, or conservatory-like buildings with glass doors open in summer. Garden space can be owned by private building owners and leased either to cafes etc or to the council. The leasee would maintain it. Buildings and walkways can be made to stand up to the next quake, though it might be tricky with walkways. Shops can have frontage at both street and elevated levels.

    The worst thing Christchurch can do is just rebuild what was there before (you had a half-empty 15-story building on that corner, we’ll build a new 15-story building on the same site. I reckon building owners, tenants and the wider Christchurch community need to get a forum going to plan a new unique CBD, including ideas like this.

  71. David says:

    I think it is a fantastic idea that could make Christchurch the envy of the world.

  72. Ashlin says:

    We should also look at introducing distributed solar and energy-efficient buildings. See http://www.pythagoras-solar.com/company/ for solar panel windows. These are going into the Sears tower in Chicago soon.

  73. Daniel says:

    I forgot to mention, this concept is new to New Zealand but not to many cities around the world – and in those cities the novelty wore off REALLY quickly; it’s not as amazing as you might think. I’m not against the idea, I just hope the council doesn’t make this the primary feature of the new city.

  74. Daniel says:

    Few problems:

    .1 So when another earthquake happens, how are you going to prevent the bridges that connect the rooftops from snapping and falling to the ground?

    2. How are you going to keep attraction high during winter when the trees and flowers are dormant?

    3. Your idea will create “private spots” perfect for trouble-makers do cause problems, how are you going to police this?

    4. This will be a common place for lunch breaks and smoke breaks, how are you going to manage the rubbish, especially the cigarette butts?

    Aesthetically speaking, I find your designs too boxy, not organic, I think this is a mistake, especially in this age where architects are trying to stay AWAY from doing box designs simply because it IS ugly.

  75. Matt says:

    urban agriculture..

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