Updates

There is plenty of activity to be excited about in Christchurch. Here you'll find a collection of media coverage of LIVS and projects that LIVS is working with.


New gallery venture to bridge art and technology

10 May 2017

A digital art gallery reflecting technical changes in society will open in Christchurch in about eight weeks. "You could say we're trying to disrupt the disruption. We'll have digital art workshops starting in July featuring national artists talking and teaching." (Ronan Whitteker of AfterMath Gallery)

The Christchurch cafe Kākano reviving Maori cuisine

7 May 2017

Jade Temepara, who is of Maori descent, set up Kākano just over a year ago in Christchurch. “Our cause is to bring our traditional food back, and to involve Maori people in the preparation.”

Steampunk Katrina Douglas fights mobility issues in style - with a teapot (The Press)

5 May 2017

Katrina Douglas is "a mad hatter in a teapot". The Christchurch woman owns Grymmstone and Treacle Emporium, the city's only steampunk clothing store, and is a milliner – a hat maker – by trade.

Call to make room for small businesses to return to central Christchurch (The Press)

19 Apr 2017

Christchurch business leaders are calling for affordable space for small, local businesses in the city centre. Brendan Chase chairman of the Central City Business Association talks about a collective approach to providing premises to replace lost old buildings and small spaces. 

New gelato store opening in New Regent St. (Christchurch Press)

6 Jul 2016

The new store, at 35-37 New Regent St, is the perfect next step for owner Jed Joyce, who first opened the business as a small mobile gelato cart – you'll know it by its bright orange and red colouring and snazzy design.

Cantabrians anticipate great Crate Escape

9 Jun 2016

Crate Escape has been a labour of love on their own time for the team, as all three have separate full-time jobs.
"We're really excited to get people in," Mr McMillan says, "It's just quite rewarding watching people go through the puzzles and figure everything out."

New container escape attraction for Christchurch (Chistchurch Press)

31 May 2016

A nondescript shipping container on the corner of Armagh and Manchester Streets houses the game Crate Escape, based on the "escape room" concept popular around the world.

Gauging the Impacts of Post-Disaster Arts and Culture Initiatives in Christchurch

13 May 2016

Gauging the Impacts of Post-Disaster Arts and Culture Initiatives in Christchurch – a Literature Review, was prepared by Life in Vacant Spaces Charitable Trust for the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

The objective of the literature review was to gather and assess existing research on the impacts arts and culture activity has had on cultural, social, health and economic wellbeing in the community in the Christchurch region following the earthquakes in 2010/2011.  The review includes the key findings of each study and the robustness of the methodology used; a summary of the findings from the literature, and recommendations on potential areas for further study.

Additions and suggestions are welcome. Please contact info@livs.org.nz for this.

Getting a fresh start at Cultivate urban farm (Christchurch Press)

25 Apr 2016

Kiwis from all walks of life have been given a new chance through volunteering at Cultivate Christchurch; an urban farm on the corner of Peterborough and Manchester Street. Cultivate Christchurch co-creator Fiona Stewart on what volunteers can gain: "Along the way, you're learning key skills such as how to grow food, how to connect with other people, building relationships, learning employability skills and the key thing is the networks that you gain."

The Student Volunteer Army gets their hands dirty at Kākano Cafe (One News)

25 Apr 2016

The Student Volunteer Army is starting a new initiative for ANZAC Day, volunteering just an hour of your time. 

An Interview with Jade from Kākano Cafe (Radio NZ)

26 Feb 2016

Kakano is based around 240 square metres of organically grown food gardens, that are a focal point of its community activities. Jade Temepara is the woman beind the new enterprise.

Kakano Café and Cookery School Opens (Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu)

23 Feb 2016

Jade, her husband Wiki and their five tamariki have all been involved in making Kākano a reality. They believe very strongly in healthy food and healthy lifestyles, and their ground-breaking indigenous contemporary Maori food menu is based on local organic, foraged, fresh ingredients. At night, the café will transform into a hub for workshops, seminars and a long-awaited cooking class space.

State of the Arts: Audacious lives up to its name (Christchurch Press)

30 Oct 2015

Even the notion of wiring an entire central city for sound has enough chutzpah to deserve a hearty public ovation.

Christchurch's creative year zero (Citylab)

19 Oct 2015

Mayor Lianne Dalziel on the earthquake recovery.  "The rebuild has shaken up ways the city does business. Life in Vacant Spaces, an umbrella organization intended to match vacant sites with temporary tenants, is emerging as an all-purpose bureaucracy-neutralizing machine for citizens, says Dalziel, one that could well have a future after the rebuild is complete. 'We’re not going back to what we were before—we can’t. Instead, we’re changing the way we think, [asking] how do we embed a sense of vibrancy, energy, creativity and innovation into our rebuild?'"

Growing people and places together (Christchurch Press)

9 Oct 2015

"A quality rebuild requires fresh collaborations that are nimble enough to adapt and grow with the processes of recovery. Rich collaborations between corporates and not for profits, between professionals and the grassroots, and between the city and its citizens can strengthen the outcomes."

The SF bay area can learn from the Christchurch earthquakes (Medium)

29 Sep 2015

What does it mean for a population to live through this kind of experience together? They grieve what once was, but people also feel more connected to their community and neighbors and proud of their ability to cope. As outsiders in Christchurch, we were struck by a sense of quirkiness, excitement, innovation and entrepreneurship in the city that we didn’t notice elsewhere in New Zealand.

Urban Agriculture in the Garden City (RDU)

23 Sep 2015

A conversation about Urban Agriculture and how it is happening in Christchurch. Chats with Fi Stewart and Bailey Peryman from Cultivate Christchurch.  

City-making to replace 'transitional' (Christchurch Press)

20 Sep 2015

"Christchurch has changed its thinking. A city is not just buildings, but the process and the participation," says Ryan Reynolds. "How do we get more participation in city-making?"  "We need to invite people to behave in a way that they wouldn't otherwise and create more social reactions, even joy."

Innovative partnerships revitalise empty city spaces (Christchurch Press)

10 Sep 2015

"Remaking a city is no small task, but by taking an innovative partnership approach to managing the problem of vacant spaces, we may be able to get through this next phase stronger, with the power of people doing things together to enliven our city."

Choreography for citizen led urban regeneration (Agile City)

2 Sep 2015

With the rise of so many community initiated open spaces, Christchurch has been presented with the opportunity to become a model in sustainable urbanism. Gap Filler and Life in Vacant Spaces are now in a transitional phase themselves considering how they can turn their temporary initiatives into long-term urban development projects.

Christchurch returning to its cycling roots (The Guardian)

1 Sep 2015

"Creating good cycling infrastructure starts with doing the basics right... when you include the associated health benefits, there is an eight-to-one benefit-to-cost ratio that comes with cycling investment  Pop-up bike workshops such as RAD have been built by community-minded citizens."

Can we take community involvement further? (Christchurch Press)

23 Aug 2015

"Cantabrians tend to think of Greening the Rubble, Gap Filler, and Life in Vacant Spaces as specific to our weird post-disaster situation here. In fact, I met many similar groups in Copenhagen – several of them winning government tenders to lead new public city developments." LIVS' strategic advisor Ryan Reynolds writes about his work in Copenhagen.

Debut of 'The Art of Recovery' (NZ International Film Festival)

7 Aug 2015

Filming over several years, Young juxtaposes the Gap Filler philosophy with the precipitate and increasingly ascendant business-driven imperatives of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan. ‘Exciting cities are dysfunctional and chaotic’, protests one critic of the Recovery Plan’s tidy carve-up of city space. Young appreciates that no governmental organisation appoints itself the agent of chaos, no matter how exciting, but he leaves us hoping against hope that the new city can be infused with some measure of the resurgent spirit, creativity and pride of community ownership so lovingly documented in his film.

How design can help your neighbourhood (Chch Press)

5 Aug 2015

Dr Jessica Halliday, who helped bring the People Building Better Cities exhibition to Christchurch, says she hopes it will "stimulate conversations and action ... how everyday citizens can be involved in urban form, services, transportation, and projects large and small in the city they make home."  Dr Rubbo of Global Studio says, 'Talking with people is vital.  If you can help start something and can do it in a collaborative way, then people take it with them."

Temporary projects leave long-lasting legacy (Lincoln University Press Release)

29 Jul 2015

Dr Andreas Wesener, a lecturer in Urban Design at the School of Landscape Architecture has just published research on transitional community-initiated open spaces. His paper discusses benefits, possible long-term values and future challenges for community-initiated temporary urbanism in Christchurch. “Resilient people have been described as being able to find positive meaning and display positive emotions even in times of crisis, and introducing positive stimuli and engaging in positive activities have been considered vital in distressing post-disaster situations,” Dr Wesener says.

Growing bio-diversity and happiness in communities (Freerange Press)

24 Jul 2015

"I foster a quiet hope that as Christchurch is rebuilt, its new narratives are carefully woven. I hope it is not constructed as a clone city or rebuilt to the same blunt model, around a central business district, as every other international city has for the last one hundred years. It could instead be a community city, designed around the vitality that people bring to a place when they are allowed and encouraged to flourish. Wouldn’t it be extraordinary to see Christchurch grow into the template of what the twenty-first century city should be? Super-sustainable, diverse, contextual, shared and unique?" Kevin McCloud shares his vision of Christchurch.

PBBC comes to Christchurch (Freerange Press)

23 Jul 2015

'People Building Better Cities,' a well-travelled exhibition which promotes the exchange of knowledge and dialogue on the challenges of inclusive urbanization and climate change, opens to the public in Christchurch on July 28. Te Pūtahi - Christchurch centre for architecture and city-making presents this pop-up exhibition that builds on the work of Global Studio (an international educational programme).  The exhibition documents community-driven projects that share a common goal: the promotion of inclusive urbanization to improve the lives of the urban poor through innovations in participatory design and planning.

Rescued red-zoned sheds given new life (Christchurch Press)

10 Jul 2015

Wilson, a self employed EQR painter and decorater, rescued five garden sheds from red-zoned properties.

Devote IRD building to community groups (Christchurch Press)

22 Jun 2015

As the rebuild of central Christchurch picks up pace, and high-end commercial spaces return to the city, the tenants who used to occupy the cheaper spaces prevalent in the old city are struggling to find affordable property.  The small businesses, non-governmental organisations, arts groups, and community services that can't afford the rents of the new builds are forced into alternative arrangements.

New inner city farmers market (Christchurch Press)

3 Jun 2015

Bringing together local producers/artisans/food trucks and the Gap Filler Commons, Lodge and Goile are starting up a central Christchurch market - dubbed Downtown Farmers Market. Lodge says the interest in a central market has been phenomenal. He has a host of stalls already signed up including a cheesemonger, food trucks, organic and non-organic produce growers, meat suppliers and giftware outlets. The stalls will be lined up either side of the iconic arches at The Commons, and the set up will include Retro Sports and live music.

The transitional city (Volume Magazine)

20 May 2015

"While the transitional architecture in Christchurch has to be understood as a response to the unique challenges of a citizenry operating in a post-disaster context, it would be a mistake to overlook the fact that many of the issues are shared by cities without disasters."

Saving Christchurch (Christchurch Press)

9 May 2015

"Christchurch is doing the small transitional stuff better than any other city. And the Government is laying down the large lumpy investments. Yet what is lacking is the middle level of $200,000 to $500,000 projects which could fill places with temporary activity and help establish new uses for areas that had become a blank slate."

Sheds rescued for art project (Christchurch Press)

3 Mar 2015

On Friday, more than a dozen volunteers lifted a 4.2 x 2.1 metre shed in Avonside off its foundation and onto a trailer and spirited it away. The demolition company intended to wreck it on Saturday morning.  This is one of many that local artist Billy Wilson intends to salvage.  Wilson will renovate the sheds, replacing rotting wood with salvaged timber, then he will paint them.  One has been claimed by the Student Volunteer Army; associate professor Billy O'Steen, who is heading the University of Canterbury's new Community Engagement Hub, said he planned to make it a portable headquarters and meeting space.Wilson was not sure where the remaining sheds might go. Community gardens were keen, but he whimsically suggested mounting one on a plinth in the city. "I'm sure people will come forward with ideas," he said.

Artists improve communitiies (The Guardian)

12 Feb 2015

LIVS spaces such as The Commons (managed by Gap Filler) are gaining international attention.  After the initial recovery period following a natural or manmade disaster, communities face unforeseen challenges such as vacant spaces, low community morale and negative perceptions.  The transitional organisations' commitment to community engagement is shaping the future of the city.

Microhouse hopes to offer home to start-ups (Christchurch Press)

29 Jan 2015

LIVS Project Manager Brie Sherow says "I think it's hugely important that we continue to ease the barriers for entrepreneurs and their start-up ventures, otherwise we'll risk losing them.  We want to make sure that Christchurch remains the sort of place where anything can happen." 

Life in a vacant space (Amy Mountney Artist Blog)

26 Jan 2015

"NEWSFLASH: this month, along came a rather interesting ‘Micro-house’, made by new start-up business The Living Box Ltd, and here started my creative dialogue with ‘Life in Vacant Spaces’."  Artist Amy Mountney writes about her experiences in Christchurch's transitional spaces.

People collectively make a difference (Christchurch Press)

5 Jan 2015

Netta Egoz is part of Christchurch's 'city-making' movement, formed of people who are pushing the boundaries to create the new Christchurch.  "When I left, I realised the value of the city. Here you are connected to something bigger than your own life and your own circles. You have the opportunity to make a difference.''

Imagination Station opens in Cathedral Junction (Christchurch Press)

5 Jan 2015

Hundreds of people flocked to the opening of Imagination Station to unleash their creativity on thousands of small plastic blocks.  The newest tenant in LIVS Cathedral Junction aims to bring children into the central city again to explore a world of Lego fun.

Lego joins rebuild effort (NZ Herald)

3 Jan 2015

In addition to free play with Legos, the Imagination Station also provides semi-structured activities where kids might build a forest or compete to make the highest tower.  More advanced programmes included courses on robotics, building virtual Lego or making Lego movies.  "These activities focus their attention on a topic, but still give them enough individual freedom to build their own designs," says co-founder Christoph Bartneck.

Red tape stymies recovery (Christchurch Press)

27 Dec 2014

LIVS worked to facilitate several temporary projects on Cera land in the East Frame - a restaurant with celebrity chef Richard Till, a community garden and farm, as well as temporary structures for artists, designers and craftspeople.  After nine months of negotiations ended in stalemate, LIVS has cut ties with the organisation, citing difficult bureaucratic processes.  Lincoln University city planning expert Dr Suzanne Vallance said that community groups and small business owners were struggling to get a foothold in the city's blueprint.  "When one person is holding all the decision-making ability it must slow down recovery, because it has to pass through one point . . . We need a more distributed model of decision-making to facilitate recovery."

Christchurch wins international urban innovation award (CCC Media Release)

2 Dec 2014

The Christchurch entry was one of five cities to win the Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation.  "The award recognises the community-led transitional initiatives which encourage participation to create the places that are putting Christchurch on the map and the Council's commitment to supporting these initiatives," says Councillor Lonsdale.  “There is relevance beyond Christchurch for transitional city approaches. All cities are evolving whether they have suffered a natural disaster or not.  Hopefully this encourages other cities to be part of a global movement where local governments work closely with their communities to encourage innovation, creativity and resilience.”

Sumner Market revives seaside suburb (Christchurch Press)

27 Nov 2014

Each Sunday morning the village green in Sumner is transformed into a hive of entrepreneurial activity.  For the past six weeks, a united community of stallholders, led by market co-ordinator Colette Doughty, have sold their wares in the beachside village.  Fresh food and all things hand-made are on display here as part of this community-driven project to revitalise Sumner and attract people back to the formerly vibrant retail area.

The relationship between the temporary and the permanent (BBC)

9 Nov 2014

Lovely BBC feature on the relationship between the permanent and the temporary in Chch, featuring the LIVS space on Colombo occupied so beautifully by Greening the Rubble and Crack'd for Christchurch.  "Christchurch is now 'the weirdest place', Ms Cooper said. 'There's nowhere you can't go any more but lots of places where there's no reason to go. Some people are energised by it, others feel overwhelmed by the mess,' she added." 

Festa is a smart way forward for Christchurch (NZ Herald)

4 Nov 2014

Entering the zone under a dazzling string portal, I encountered a group of students sitting among a circle of blankets and cushions. It looked like a scene from Waiting for Godot - a kind of defiance in the blasted heath of Christchurch's desolate vacant lots.  By now, it's clear to many the rebuilding of Christchurch is progressing far too slowly. If those in charge care to notice, FESTA suggests a smart way forward to bring life back into the city.

Giraffes spring up around Christchurch (Christchurch Press)

3 Nov 2014

Giraffes are invading Christchurch this summer, and will be encouraging locals to stand tall like they do.  LIVS is proud to host giraffes at several sites and grateful to be named as one of the four charities for the project.  Sculptures of the gentle giants have come to the city for Christchurch Stands Tall, a public arts project designed to lift residents' spirits and make people smile.

Interview with Malcolm Riddoch of The Auricle (Pantograph Punch)

30 Oct 2014

Christchurch’s scene as a whole is driven by potential. The creative scene and the recovery itself are both about the potential of the future and what people are doing with it now. That potential is why people come to Christchurch, and why they stay.

Interview with Gaby Montejo of The Social (Pantograph Punch)

29 Oct 2014

Gaby argues that the current lack of gallery space should not act as a deterrent to making art, since the act of creating the work is more important than showing it at the end. Artists need to have a community to exchange ideas, to take part in what’s happening around the city and create something based on their experiences.

Interview with Alex Davies of Shop 8 (Pantograph Punch)

28 Oct 2014

Alex Davies on opening a restaurant in a rubble lot, foraging in the residential red zone, and food as the catalyst for a cultural shift.

Festa: A bright, brilliant night (Christchurch Press)

27 Oct 2014

University students threw themselves into making cool things for Cantabrians. Their goodwill was immense and the crowd of more than 10,000 inhaled.  We also got fire-eating jugglers, ethnic performers, food trucks and a night market. Many carnivals have those. Festa gives temporary architecture. It works. Only in post-quake Christchurch.

Interview with Bailey Peryman of Garden City 2.0 (Pantograph Punch)

27 Oct 2014

“I think the whole recovery thing is a misnomer. We need to throw the idea of recovery out the door and go back to the transitioning to something better.”


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