Restart the Heart: Christchurch’s Cashel Mall beats again

Today, for the first time in eight months, I walked around the Cashel Mall, in the centre of Christchurch’s business district.  Members of the public have not been allowed in this area since the earthquake in February.  Four people died in the Mall area as a result of the earthquake.

It is a scene that you struggle to comprehend, so changed is the landscape.  Many buildings have been demolished, making it difficult to establish the landmarks that have been so familiar.  Other buildings are in the state of deconstruction.

Shoppers have been forced to use suburban malls since February. Even before this time, the central shopping area of Christchurch was struggling against this strong competition. In an initiative to draw shoppers back into the city, the “Restart the Heart” Trust was given $3.36 million to kickstart the project. It is a small but significant start in the re-build of central Christchurch.

In a novel approach, 27 shops and cafes have been constructed in an area vacated by demolished buildings, using brightly decorated shipping containers.  It is a temporary measure which may last up to a year, until construction of permanent buildings begins. Construction workers have worked 24/7 in the last week, putting the finishing touches on the containers and surrounding landscaping, so that the Mall could be open for Cup Week (horse racing carnival).

It is a pleasant place to be, it looks resplendent on a sunny day. If you gaze around, though, you can see many large buildings close by in various stages of deconstruction. In the background (photo above) is the Lichfield Street Car Park building.  I’m not sure of its fate, however is not currently in use. (Update: awaiting engineers’ assessment following further damage in June earthquake.)








The original Ballantynes store has reopened


A Ballantynes reminder that Christmas is here soon


The 28 storey Hotel Grand Chancellor awaiting demolition, at a cost of  $10 million


Cashel Street Car Park, another doomed building that can be seen from the Mall.

Find some time lapse photography, showing the final week of construction, right up until the first visitors arrive on opening day here.

For an update on the Cathedral and surrounding buildings in November 2011, click here.


7 thoughts on “Restart the Heart: Christchurch’s Cashel Mall beats again

  1. Your city suffered a terrible tragedy. I’m always amazed at the creative ways people come back from disasters and re-start their lives. I’ve never seen a configuration of shipping containers like this before! How interesting! The bright colors lend to the optimistic spirit that I’m sure exists in the recovery efforts. In the Gulf-coastal U.S., after Hurricane Katrina, residents who had lost their homes transformed shipping containers into temporary housing. They are quite sturdy and weather resistant.

    You have an interesting blog, and I look forward to following! 🙂


    • We are coming into summer in Christchurch and looking positively to kick start the city. Yes we had plenty of coverage of Hurricane Katrina, shipping containers are definately effective for a number of creative purposes! Thank you for your comments.


  2. Pingback: Canterbury Earthquake September 2010 | annettewoodford

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s