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Cantabrians choose wood for a better future


The voice of the people


Cantabrian’s ideas and views on the new face of Christchurch’s CBD will be vital to shaping the rebuild. So what are people asking for, and how does timber technology fit with what the population want in a new central city?


When the Christchurch City Council called on people to ‘Share an Idea’ to help formulate the Draft Central City Plan following the February earthquake, they were overwhelmed with responses, with more than 106,000 ideas coming through.


“The response shows us that Christchurch residents are passionate about their Central City and want to ensure it is redeveloped to provide a great place for future generations and tourists,” says Mike Theelan, Central City Plan Project Sponsor.


Some common overarching themes emerged. Central to people’s views on ‘space’ was the desire for well designed, eco-friendly, sustainable, low-rise buildings of two to six storeys that meet earthquake building codes, and less concrete tilt-slab design. People also called for low rise buildings to encourage businesses and workers back into the central city, and for the rebuild to be a proud legacy for Christchurch – all concepts that fit perfectly with the attributes of LVL and glulam timber technology.


And the Central City Plan team’s 48 Hour Design Challenge in July saw team NZ Wood take out the Supreme Award for an inspiring timber design – using EXPAN damage avoidance technology. Check out the image above. Fifteen teams took part in the challenge to put their best plans forward for specific parts of the central city – in the winning entry’s case – the Orion site at 203 Gloucester Street.


Team NZ Wood’s concept incorporated green space, affordable apartment living, pedestrian access from Latimer Square through to the Avon River, retaining historical elements of the site.


Mike Theelen said it was great to see a winning proposal that was clearly aligned to the Plan and ideas from the public.

“The public have indicated their desire for increased green spaces, as well as low-rise buildings that feel safe. People not only need to be told the city’s buildings are safe – they need to know why and to really trust this is the case. It all comes back to putting people at the centre of the Central City rebuild.”


The idea of timber playing a role in the rebuild of Christchurch has also been picked up on by media, with key features in The Press, Christchurch Star, the Stuff website, ABC and TV1 news, to name a few.


When an article entitled ‘Call for quake-resistant rebuild’ appeared in The Press and on www.stuff.co.nz in late June, reader comments included:

“I can see a massive level of confidence would be inspired in knowing that such cutting edge buildings exist here. A drawcard all in itself…Stuff.co.nz needs more positive forward looking stories such as this to balance out the extreme doom and gloom invading our minds. Brilliant kiwi engineering right here in a devastated CHCH's own back yard. Inspirational!”

And, “Great to see support for wooden laminated framed buildings, and very pleased to see a forward looking article.”


The rebuildchristchurch.co.nz website sees thousands of visitors a day all keen to view and discuss ideas for the city’s rebuild. Its founder Deon Swiggs told TV3 that the most popular idea to emerge is that of ‘sustainability’.


STIC Chief Executive Rob Finch says the EXPAN technology has all the elements to meet the public desire for a safe, sustainable, and iconic new city.


“For a comparable price to steel or concrete, we can build safe buildings through innovative damage resistance technology, in beautiful timber that looks good. On top of that, you get a building with a lower carbon footprint, that’s carbon neutral on day one. So if you incorporate all of this into well thought out urban design, you have a no brainer. With this technology, it’s all possible in a way that’s it’s never been possible before, and that’s what we’ve got to offer for the future rebuild of Christchurch.”

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