Christchurch’s prominent and much-loved Cathedral Square reopened last weekend (Jul 6), having been officially released from the rebuild cordon, marking a significant step forward in the recovery of the city.
At the same time on Saturday, Christchurch City Council launched the Transitional Square project, which will see the Square transformed with vibrant art installations, new seating and performance space. The Square also will have new public facilities installed and be regenerated with plants and vegetation.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker announced the project at the re-opening, followed by an afternoon of local music and performances.
“We can now start thinking inside the square” quipped Parker “and restoring it as a focal point of activity. It is important we set the right tone in creating a welcoming area that represents the history of the Square and that is sympathetic to the scale of the disaster and the rebuild job ahead,” Parker said.
Christchurch’s Cathedral Square is the iconic image of Christchurch, an image that was destroyed with the partial collapse of Christ Church Cathedral after the February 22 earthquake in 2011.
The revival and re-opening of Cathedral Square as a safe place to visit once again is a major milestone in the process of re-building the city and inviting tourists and visitors to come back.
“As the heart of Christchurch and the iconic image of our city, we are delighted that Cathedral Square will once again be buzzing with life and activity,” said Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism CEO, Tim Hunter.
“This is a major step forward for the city’s recovery and should give people further confidence to come back and visit.”
The Square will showcase a varied collection of artworks and installations including a number of large panels on fences that explore Ngāi Tahu’s connection with the area. Information on each artist and what inspired their work will be prominently displayed along with interpretation panels representing the life of the Square over time.
In addition to Cathedral Square, the first fully restored building at Christchurch’s Arts Centre – the Registry – also re-opened to the public over the weekend (on Sunday, July 7).
The Arts Centre of Christchurch is an iconic collection of 23 heritage buildings constructed in the Gothic Revival style.
For over a century, the site was home to Canterbury College, and then the University of Canterbury. Since 1978, the site has been held in Trust for the benefit of the people of Canterbury as a place where arts, culture and education are fostered, promoted and celebrated.
The rebuild process has thoroughly strengthened and restored the Registry, while adding modern services to improve access and use of the building.
Visitors to the Registry will be able to walk through the building and experience a tangible part of the vision for the future of the Arts Centre.
The re-opening of Cathedral Square and the Registry follows the removal of the Red Zone cordon last week, another major milestone in the city’s recovery.
The New Zealand Defence Force staged a march along Worcester Boulevard last Sunday to officially end their longest ever domestic deployment. They were thanked in person by Prime Minister John Key for their duty to Christchurch.
The New Zealand Defence Force manned the cordon around Christchurch’s central city for the past 857 days since the earthquake in 2011. With the official cordon now gone, large parts of the city – which were for so long only able to be viewed at a distance – are now open to the public.