Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch
Edited by Barnaby Bennett, James Dann, Emma Johnson & Ryan Reynolds (Freerange Press, $45)
Reviewed by Alison McCulloch
Editor’s note: A Q&A with the book’s editors follows this review.
And how could it not be: this impressive undertaking comprises 55 written essays (and 39 visual) from academics, activists, journalists, architects, as well as people with métiers I’m less sure about, like ecourbanists, spatial analysts, and futurists. It’s a potpourri (organic, for sure) and not the kind of book you should sit down to read right through. (Though if you do pull that off, it feels a bit like you’ve earned a bachelor’s in urban design theory, perhaps with a minor in futurism.)
Before diving in to the book’s content, it might be useful here to offer up a few facts: • As well as the major quakes on 4 Sept. 2010 and 22 Feb. 2011, Christchurch has suffered more than 13,000 aftershocks. • 185 people from 17 countries died as a result of the February quake. • The entire recovery is estimated to cost around $40 billion. • Most major projects are running behind schedule, and it’ll be at least 2020 before they’re completed. • 12,000 homes have been demolished together with 1,500 commercial buildings.