The New Eastside: Re-populating East Christchurch Through Diverse, Contextualised, Medium Density Housing
At the conclusion of the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes more than 5100 homes had been deemed unsafe for habitation. The land and buildings of these were labelled “red zoned” and are too badly damaged for remediation. These homes have been demolished or are destined for demolition. To assist the red zone population to relocate, central government have offered to ‘buy out’ home owners at the Governmental Value (GV) that was last reviewed in 2007. While generous in the economic context at the time, the area affected was the lowest value land and housing in Christchurch and so there is a capital shortfall between the 2007 property value and the cost of relocating to more expensive properties. This shortfall is made worse by increasing present day values since the earthquakes. Red zone residents have had to relocate to the far North and Western extremities of Christchurch, and some chose to move even further to neighbouring towns or cities. The eastern areas and commercial centres close to the red zone are affected as well. They have lost critical mass which has negatively impacted businesses in the catchments of the Red Zone. This thesis aims to repopulate the suburbs most affected by the abandonment of the red zone houses. Because of the relative scarcity of sound building sites in the East and to introduce affordability to these houses, an alternative method of development is required than the existing low density suburban model. Smart medium density design will be tested as an affordable and appropriate means of living. Existing knowledge in this field will be reviewed, an analysis of what East Christchurch’s key characteristics are will occur, and an examination of built works and site investigations will also be conducted. The research finds that at housing densities of 40 units per hectare, the spatial, vehicle, aesthetic needs of East Christchurch can be accommodated. Centralising development is also found to offer better lifestyle choices than the isolated suburbs at the edges of Christchurch, to be more efficient using existing infrastructure, and to place less reliance on cars. Stronger communities are formed from the outset and for a full range of demographics. Eastern affordable housing options are realised and Christchurch’s ever expanding suburban tendencies are addressed. East Christchurch presently displays a gaping scar of devastated houses that ‘The New Eastside’ provides a bandage and a cure for. Displaced and dispossessed Christchurch residents can be re-housed within a new heart for East Christchurch.