Local Heart, Global Soul

October 13, 2012

My Heart is There More Than Ever…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I like airports, watching the planes coming and going, the activity air-side as you watch little baggage trucks and strange shaped vehicles pulling planes into position or pushing them off from the gate.

Leaving Christchurch is  always hard, the airport is the line between one “home” and another and crossing that line and leaving it behind is always hard.

I’m always straining to look out of the window of the plane for the final glimpse of the Province of Canterbury, the city of Christchurch,  Port Hills,  Waimakariri River and the Southern Alps.

It’s an overcast day so there’s no luck with the Alps today, they are clothed in cloud and offer only a peep of the foothills where the Canterbury Plains begin to rise.

The Waimakariri River is visible looking like a long, slightly tangled ribbon from high in the sky and there still sweeping views past it of the east coast looking north towards Kaikoura to give me something to linger over for a few minutes at least.

Then we arc towards the Southern Alps, towards the cloud bank which envelopes the plane and the view until we  punch through the cloud level and find a blue sky with dots of cotton wool clouds beneath us.

Himself  knows it’s always tough for me to leave, it’s not like New Zealand is a weekend trip away from the Netherlands “popping home” isn’t  possible for me like it is for some of  my English or French colleagues.  He also knows I’m always ok again after the five minutes it takes to get myself together.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This time it takes a little longer: last evening whilst we were at the unit at Meadow Park,  there was another hefty quake, 5.1 on the Richter scale.

I was laying on the bed resting and everything rattled around me.

I felt like the bed was a boat on the sea… the waves kept coming.

Himself and the kids were in the swimming pool and knowing that Little Mr. would have meltdown I grabbed the crutches and set out in the direction of the pool.

Scared tourists were pouring out of the units into the open space  between them.

I went over and asked if they were ok,  most were, “shaken not stirred”  but four of the ladies were a group of  very young South Korean students and they asked nervously if the buildings would fall down now.

Without hesitation I laughed and said  “heck no, The New Zealand building code goes way beyond withstanding a little shake like this, we were in the December quakes and they were massive compared to this so the buildings will stay up just fine“. I gave them each a hug and they relaxed visibly.

A guy shot out of the communal kitchen and excitedly asked if there had really been an earthquake. I said “Yep, sure was, This is your Christchurch Welcome” and he was really annoyed, he’d been listening to music whilst he was cooking and was so distracted he didn’t even notice until people rushed in to see if everyone in the kitchen was ok.

He was a Swiss tourist and had been a week in the country and was hoping to experience as decent size aftershock… now a really good one came and he’d missed it!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I told him:  just stay out here, very still in your bare feet and sometime very soon you will feel little ripples of more but smaller shocks under your feet because they usually come after a decent aftershock.

Once I got to the pool I found most the the kids still playing and swimming and a few kids with parents at the side of the pool.

Fortunately  the quake hit as Little Mr. was hurtling down the waterslide and since the water is deep enough that he can’t touch the bottom, he was still busy making his way to the edge of the pool as the tremors subsided. He never noticed a thing.

Kiwi Daughter was standing at the bottom of the waterside steps looking shocked but managed to keep her composure and came over quickly for a cuddle and some reassurance.

I laughed and said “ah only a small one, you’ve been in waaay bigger than this!” and after a minute we felt another ripple pass under our bare feet…  and a few seconds later, another. She looked down, surprised, then  with a hopeful grin said “does this mean we get some extra time in the pool?” Yes it did. At least one more kid was adjusting to the Christchurch quakes by trying to focus on fun rather than fear.

I went back to our unit and passed a now very happy Swiss tourist who had felt the ripples too and was delighted about it. He came over and thanked me for the previous advice and when I told him that it was possible that there could be more shocks because they tend to come in clusters, he said “oh, I hope so“.

As the plane eased it’s way into high altitude I reflected on the fact that I didn’t tell the Swiss tourist that it gets old when you have to live with quakes like Christchurch people have had to in the last two years, that even though earthquakes don’t scare me at all, it’s like lightening  …there’s a limit to how much you want it around, and how close.

I get to jet away to my other “home”: one that doesn’t spring  shaky surprises without warning.  I might be physically leaving Christchurch but my heart is there more than ever.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 12, 2012

One Final Look Around…

Filed under: Christchurch Earthquake,HISTORY,LIFE,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags:

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I have an entire folder of photographs showing damage, demolition or vacant plots. Too many for right here right now.

Only time will tell how things are going to pan out in Christchurch:  how much will be rebuilt and where.

In the meantime residents of the city live with their experiences of the quakes, damaged homes, damaged work places and general infrastructure.

It’s the simple things that people find most frustrating:  for instance my Father used to have a supermarket in his neighbourhood, it was damaged beyond repair and so  it’s been demolished and hopefully it will be rebuilt soon.

In the meantime he has to travel  around closed and damaged streets to supermarkets in other neighbourhoods to do his grocery shopping and it’s usually crowded because everyone else is doing the same, sometimes people get angry and frustrated in the supermarket: … the out-workings of stress.

If a small aftershock hits when he’s inside the supermarket across town then often terrified children start screaming and if the shock is big enough customers are immediately evacuated and the building closed until an inspection can be done, regardless of wither or nor he managed to get his veggies, milk and bread.

It’s how things should be for public safety of course, but it doesn’t make for easy or stress-free day to day living.

Friends said when the big quakes of September 2010 and February 2011 hit,  the ground shook so hard they had trouble standing upright,  during the Feb quake one friend tried to hang onto a wall but it was moving back and forth so much that that wasn’t really possible either, she and a work colleague were close enough to each other to brace themselves against each other whilst the shop contents fell around them.

We own a house in the city,  in Papanui and  we and our tenants were very lucky, there was no liquefaction on our property but there was plenty just a few houses further down the street. There but for the grace of God go we.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Most of our roof tiles are cracked, the chimney is gone and there are more cracks than I care to count in the stone exterior cladding… insurance will pay to have the entire house re-clad and there is a very long list of small repair jobs  but fortunately nothing major and the place is perfectly habitable.  (emergency work to keep the roof watertight was done  immediately).

The steps to the back door have larger cracks, we got off very lightly (after an initial scare that one series of cracks might have been an indication of very serious structural damage to the foundations… we consulted an engineer and luckily this turned out to be just more on the list of lesser damage).

I wonder what will happen to the clock tower in the old railway station building on Moorhouse Avenue (the station’s long since been converted into a multiplex picture theatre but the building is another of the cities landmarks)

What will happen to the churches who’s steeples stand forlornly on the ground next to the remains of the towers?  Or the Old Book Exchange building?

Since the sign by Scorpio Books in the central city warns of extreme danger I don’t hold out any hope that this building will still be here next time I step off the plane. It too used to be a favourite haunt.

We are about to leave Christchurch and New Zealand… and return to the Netherlands where our kids won’t have to fear that the ground is about to let rip without warning beneath them. Little Mr. especially is delighted to be heading to the airport.

…One final look around…  Church, Harewood Road, Bishopdale…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Church,  Main North Road, Papanui…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Boulevard restaurant (building at 78 Hereford Street)  in the central city…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Scorpio’s  right across the road…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The  Book Exchange…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 11, 2012

Sydenham: What’s Left, What Will Go, What’s Gone and What Will Rise in It’s Place.

Filed under: Christchurch Earthquake,HISTORY,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

People ask me why so many buildings in Christchurch are so badly damaged that they can no longer be repaired:  my answer is that people can only make a building as safe as  they possibly can with the available technology of the day, and that expecting the buildings to stay intact when a large earthquake hits is really too much to ask: better we just have to require that they stay up long enough for people to be evacuated safely.

That so many buildings managed to stay upright in their extremely broken states can be counted as a kind of “success” i.e. at least the death toll wasn’t  in the thousands or tens of thousands as it might well have been without a decent building code and solid engineering.

Sadly the damage that many buildings sustained means that controlled implosions to bring them down aren’t possible, because controlled implosions necessitate cutting support columns and planting the explosives in strategic places,  something only possible if the structure is not in an already weakened state.

Add to that mix a daily dose of aftershocks and it’s clear that the “nibbler method” where buildings are slowly dismantled from the top down by crane,  is the only way, no matter how slow or tedious that method is.

In Sydenham lots of buildings suffered irreparable damage and are now gone…

Today’s post is one that wonders about the fate of Sydenham… what’s left, what will go, what’s gone and what will rise in it’s place. Let’s take a look…

Top photo is on the left hand side of the street of the third photo.

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

The following building used to be famous, not for the building itself but for what used to be on top of it… a mega huge fibreglass Kiwi, icon and logo of the Kiwi bacon company (Sadly the fiberglass Kiwi has been gone for years, so it’s not on the  Google street view image)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

…a little further down the road this mural has been added to a back wall of one of the remaining rear buildings….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

looking (south) back at the next block…

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

and one further….

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

Opposite Sydenham Bakery…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

and a little way down the road…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And pretty much the entire Lane Walker Rudkin “complex”of buildings… before: (yes, almost all of them)

(photograph © Thanks Google Street View)

Now….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And all around more of the same…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 10, 2012

Cramner Courts: The Wrecking Ball Becomes a Hot Potato…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Wow, it seems that a series of posts I had lined up for this week are being posted by chance amid ongoing turmoil concerning them almost as we speak (or is that as I wrote, no  as you read? ).

I didn’t know too much about the Cramner Courts buildings  except it used to be called the “Normal School” (and I always wondered if that meant somehow that all other schools were abnormal) until I checked out the web pages of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust  (link below) and found the following explanation.

I’ve edited it a little for brevity so if you’d like to read the full account  please just click on the link provided.

“Today’s Cranmer Court was originally built to house Christchurch Normal School, which opened in 1876.

‘Normal’ or ‘model’ schools are schools that provide teacher trainees with the opportunity to observe teachers and classes in action in a normal school environment. Christchurch Normal School was the first of this type in Canterbury, opening just after one in Otago.

The Canterbury Board of Education held an architectural competition in 1873 for designs for Christchurch Normal School. Twelve entries were received and the one submitted by the architect Samuel C. Farr (1827-1918), was selected.  

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Farr’s Christchurch Normal School was built in stone from the Halswell quarry with Oamaru stone dressings. It was designed with two wings forming an ‘L’ shape, one for boys and one for girls, and a distinctive octagonal room at the corner of the ‘L’ with an intricate wooden vaulted ceiling.

The octagonal room was originally intended to house a book depot, but by the time the building was completed this idea had been abandoned.

When the normal school function was transferred to Elmwood School in 1954, this building became the centre for the Post-Primary Department of the Christchurch Teachers’ College.

In 1970 the teachers’ college moved to the suburb of Ilam and the building remained vacant until a developer bought it in 1981 and turned it into a group of luxury apartments and a restaurant. 

This building is significant as one of the earliest normal schools in New Zealand, and as a fine example of Gothic Revival architecture, which is a distinctive feature of Christchurch. Debates in 1969-1970 over the building’s fate show that it is held in high public esteem. It forms an important part of the townscape of Cranmer Square. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

1970-1981 – The building lay vacant and neglected.

A group of Christchurch citizens (lead by the Civic Trust) lobbied for the retention of the building and for its adaptive reuse arguing that it was more economically feasible to convert the existing building than to demolish and rebuild.

 1981- The building was purchased by a development company for conversion into 22 residential apartments with 15 new town houses to be built on vacant land to the north. Street facades and the roofline were preserved and the ventilators and one tower reinstated.

Interiors were stripped out and dormer windows added to the roof. The octagonal room, which formerly served as the headmaster’s office on the southwest corner, was converted to a restaurant. The complex was renamed Cranmer Courts.”

This building appears to have become a political football… or hot potato depending on how you look at it.

Although it’s privately owned everyone from almost A-Z appears to have their fingers in the decision making pie  on what should be done with it, how it can be saved (or not) but in true political style the issue of exactly where the cash is coming from in order to carry out these dreams and ideals is hazy, dare I say it, even so far non-existent in sums large enough to be serious. (although this situation could change yet again)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The saga so far: Australian investors were prepared to inject cash and save it,  they signed up to the contract of due diligence that would se the facade of the building saved.  Then they pulled then pulled out at the 11th hour, almost immediately, with no cash lined up on the doorstep it was deemed unsafe by CERA , or possibly the owners (depending on which of the many articles you read) and the bulldozers moved in almost before the  doomed contract hit the bottom of the rubbish bin. The contractors were then halted by emergency injunction as a local city counciler stepped whipping up a storm of debate bigger than the rubble dust that was being generated on site.

In yet another instance of opaque ” transparency” in the  life of a historic Christchurch building it’s hard to see what’s really going on here.

By all means, try and halt demolition whilst another investor is found to redeem it at great cost.

But haven’t the owners tried that already ? and didn’t they fail? Have all options already been exhausted ?

It’s a really tough one, and I really don’t know all the facts so I’ll play devil’s advocate a little: On one hand the building has been standing with substantial damage for over two years now, so just how long should the owners be expected to wait ?… the building is like a patient on life support, either operate to fix it or let it die, but this catatonic limbo can’t be expected to go on forever.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

But are the owners really trying hard enough to find investors will are prepared to undertake the extensive surgery the building needs?  or is CERA perhaps guilty of using their steamroller tactics again?

As for the City councillor  Is this really a serious 11th hour reprieve or just political point harvesting  to be used at the next election? can you really have a say when you don’t have the funds to put your money where your mouth is?

Making demands when other people are picking up the bill is easy… putting your hand into your own pocket is not… if the building is so important, the question that begs asking is “has the Council been busy fundraising for the last two years so that they can step in?”

The answer is probably a mixture of all of this… a pinch of every argument that now makes a rather explosive mix that’s hit the headlines in a dramatic fashion. Of course I’d like to see this building saved,  but hey reality is that my piggy-bank isn’t even coming within light-years of  covering this account so who am I to judge?

Whilst I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a favourably outcome for Cramner Courts I’ll readily admit it’s a sticky situation, apparently getting messier by the minute… the bulldozer engines are still warm and the very real dust hasn’t settled by a long shot… it will be interesting to see which way the wrecking ball ends up swinging on this one.

…and a post script: I think this white building opposite Cramner Courts is called Chateau Blanc from the Clarion Collection Hotel chain and it took some damage too… which I think is being repaired.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://www.historic.org.nz/TheRegister/RegisterSearch/RegisterResults.aspx?RID=1872

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/7781487/New-bids-to-save-Cranmer-Courts

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/christchurch-earthquake/news/article.cfm?c_id=1502981&objectid=10838514

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

October 9, 2012

It’s Not Necessarily What’s in The Photograph That’s Worrying… It’s What’s Not.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This post is a continuation of the one I made yesterday… because I spied something that piqued my curiosity.

There’s a relatively unassuming building in Hereford Street, Christchurch that stands next to Shand’s Emporium and its called the Royal Insurance building.  On the ground floor at street level there are four equal sized arches that house three windows and a doorway, followed on floors two to four by rows of four large bay windows on each level.

What’s seized my attention are two things, First is the unmissable  massive ironwork bracing that appears to be holding up the front face of the building, and second is the fact that the building is tucked so close in to Shand’s Emporium that it even appears to be dovetailed into the recess beneath the Shand’s Emporium roof!

That’s a very “close relationship” indeed so needless to say I was interested to find out more about this building.

Sadly I drew almost a total blank on my research on this one,  the only mention is I could find was that a company called “Royal Insurance” was  indeed active in Hereford Street Christchurch from about the 1860’s onwards, thus making it one of the cities founding stone buildings… but details about how long it stayed as an Insurance company and when it ceased to be so and went on to other things appear to be absent (or more probably, the information is available somewhere in a place like the Christchurch City Council archives).

Still, background information or not, I hoped that whoever had gone to such a great effort to support this building, would be back to repair it at a later date.

As is my custom, I usually start sorting travel photographs and using my diary notes a week or two before the post is published… because often I need to fill in the gaps and provide names, dates and finish my research on the topic before I can post it and as you can imagine with work, health and family life, not everything can done quickly.

The text up until this point, I had written ready for posting, so imagine my horror when I ran across an on-line newspaper article yesterday here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/7575542/Good-home-wanted-for-Shands-Emporium

It’s not just the sad shape of the little Shand’s Emporium building that’s left me speechless  ….it’s  also the very prominent gap on the left side of the newspaper photograph where the Royal Insurance building should  be standing that makes my heart sink.

I’m posting these photographs of the Royal Insurance building anyway…  since photographs apparently,  are all that’s left.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

October 8, 2012

A Determinative Wooden Gem Amongst Modern Giants… Sort of …Has the Last Laugh.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You are leafing through the pages of my Travel Diary, featuring at the moment our New Zealand travels of earlier this year.

It’s a bit strange to be suddenly back in my home town, surrounded by buildings I know so well, but finding that damage is so great in some places that you have to do a double take to remember where you are standing.

It’s difficult to remember in some spots what buildings used to be in the now vacant gaps …and seriously how this can ever look “normal” ever again?

On an earlier visit to the Cashel Street container mall,  we parked in a car-park  at 84 Hereford Street that is actually the empty space left behind after the demolition of the  (former) NZ Trust and Loan building. This building was built in 1866 by well known architect Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort.

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust website says: ” It was believed to be the earliest and oldest surviving example of Venetian Gothic Revival architecture that dated back to an early phase of European built commercial history in Christchurch. The building was demolished following the earthquake of 22 February 2011.”

At some time the building stopped being being involved in banking and became a Pub or a restaurant… the building remained full of original features and character until its untimely demise. 

Right next to the NZ Trust and Loan building is another building that has lashings of original features and character  the iconic little building that is Shand’s Emporium.

Built in either the 1850’s or in 1860 (source information varies) Shand’s Emporium at number 88 Hereford Street is one of the original wooden settlement buildings erected in Christchurch city centre, and the only commercial wooden building of the time to have survived into the present day.

Not only that, but it also still functions as a commercial premises.

No one who lives in Christchurch can fail to recognise this distinctive little green painted wooden building, I went into it several times years ago when I lived in the city: window shopping as I looked at pretty antiques and curios that were beyond my wages but featured in the imaginary house of my dreams.

I remember there was more than one shop inside the building, but the only details I remember about the inside was that there was a jumble of stock everywhere (I’m naturally clumsy and I remember a fear of breaking something) and there were a lot of very interesting historical photos all up the walls of the stairs that I seem to remember were of dark brown wood.

It’s always been distinctive as the “little wooden building” in amongst it’s modern day towering counterparts in concrete, steel and stone, but the mere fact that this building is constructed of wood means it might have a last laugh, and having sustained less damage and it may just be around far longer than most of it’s neighbours.

It’s a beautiful building, distinctive and quirky and I hope that it still has a long and happy future in the centre of Christchurch’s city centre.

I’ve included some screen-shot photos from Google Street View so that you can get an idea of what the street looked like before.

There are shots looking in both directions because from what I can see there are still quite a few buildings that look  like they will be removed so these photos will become the visual “before” references for comparison once the rebuild is completed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(the former) NZ Trust and Loan Building… a.k.a. Monkey’s Bar (or was it Mythai?)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © Thanks to Google Street View)

The Vero Building, on the other side of where the NZ Trust and Loan building used to be looks a bit unhappy too if the air conditioning units are anything to go by.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 7, 2012

Crown Plaza: One Chapter Closes, Another Begins…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One interesting  thing about the internet and the modern age,  is that it’s now possible for me to look at some of the goings-on in Christchurch, New Zealand  and the earthquake recovery via web-cams whilst sitting at home in the evenings in the Netherlands.

The Christchurch Casino (housed in what used to be the old bus depot building) has one such webcam on the side of the building and at the beginning of this year I first logged on to see the hotel in the initial stages , not of demolition but of preparation of demolition.

This preparation involved stripping the interior of the building of as many of the chattels as possible and then removal of  any recyclable material: glass windows were stripped out, pipework, electrics etc.

Since a good deal of this work took place inside the building,  I saw little progress from the outside at first, but in March when the windows started disappearing from the  five top floors  (Lead photo) it was clear that things were going to hot up on the web-cam images.  I started making screen-shots from the casino’s web cam, and the following photos are the result.

I took the screen-shots mostly in the Dutch evenings so with the 12 hour time difference it was  already early the next morning in New Zealand, but on occasion I was up early enough on a Dutch morning to catch a shots of the building on a New Zealand late summer evening.

Window removal intensifies…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Almost no glass remaining… Photo taken on 7th April 2012.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I stupidly thought that I wouldn’t need to look at the web-cam every day, I mean how fast would it go? Needless to say I got a shock when I logged on just five days later and saw this photo… these demo guys don’t hang around. Photo taken 12th April 2012.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following Photo taken 13th April 2012.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following Photo taken 14th April 2012.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following Photo taken 15th April 2012.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following Photo taken 16th April 2012. Other central city buildings behind the Crown Plaza (also being demolished) come into view.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following Photo taken 20th April 2012. In the centre background I can see the blue-grey hues of the Bank of New Zealand building on the south side of Cathedral Square, which featured at the end of  a previous blog post here:

https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/new-608/#comment-7460

I think the taller building to the left of the BNZ  might be the Christchurch Millenium Hotel, but it’s hard to tell from looking at it in it’s stripped out state because it now looks like a tall grey ice-cube container … it was previously white in colour I think.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following Photo taken 22nd April 2012.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following Photo taken 23rd April 2012. The tallest building in the background at right is the Clarendon Towers, featured in a previous post here:  https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/?s=clarendon

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following Photo taken 24th April 2012.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following Photo taken 26th April 2012. The 17 story  blue / grey building third from left in the background is the Forsyth Barr Building,  an investment bank.  In spite of extensive damage and having some of it’s staircase collapse, engineers have said it’s repairable so it will probably be one of the only high-rise buildings left in Christchurch once the demolitions around it have finished.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following Photo taken 21st June 2012. By now most of the rubble has been cleared and the view from the web-cam has reverted back to be more like the views as it was in the early 1980’s before the Parkroyal / Crown Plaza went up.

At the left of the photo is a clearer view of the main auditorium , part of the Christchurch Town Hall… it’s fate is as yet undecided whilst the extensive damage is being assessed.  It was announced that none of the complex would be open in 2012. What’s next, who knows.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… finally a shot of the casino where the web-cam was mounted…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After this date the web-cam was switched off, probably because there wasn’t anything left to see with regards to the Crown Plaza Hotel. For me that’s rather a shame  because I could have now watched the ongoing work on the other buildings in the background.

The Crown Plaza has met it’s end… the city is literally picking up the pieces and starting again.  In future trips to Christchurch I will document the rise of buildings in the place of all these vanishing landmarks… or will they just be left as open spaces? Time will tell.

Like it or not this is a little snippet of Christchurch’s history. Life goes on. One chapter closes, another begins.

October 6, 2012

How The Parkroyal Became the Crown Plaza and Then Disappeared…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Crown Plaza Hotel in Christchurch is a landmark building sitting next to the Christchurch Town Hall on the edge of Victoria Square.

In days of old when  I lived in Christchurch, I was part of a “Breakfast Club” with a group of friends.

We were an all female group who knew each other from various church youth groups and there were about 15 of us, but in general a core group of seven or eight of us would meet  early for breakfast at one of the many large hotels that offered a breakfast buffet menu for members of the public as well as for their guests.

Usually we arrived early that we could attend church afterwards, but on occasion, when  the breakfasts were only available at a later hour, we would skip the morning church service, make our breakfast into a leisurely brunch and then attend the evening church service together instead.

For our group of students and new to the workforce ladies,  it was a chance to get dressed up and indulge in a once a month or six week treat, where for a set price we could dine in a style that for all of us was a small but affordable slice of luxury.

I still count two members of the “club”  as firm friends decades after the club eventually disbanded.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Way back then, this hotel wasn’t actually called the “Crown Plaza” but instead went by the name of  “The Parkroyal” and it was rather a controversial building at first because it’s construction blocked off the top end of Victoria Street and changed the layout of a small section of the central city.

The building had met with it’s fair share of opponents  but once it opened, it was stunning inside. It was light and calm and the breakfast buffet was not only extensive but also beautifully presented.

Our breakfast  club started out with a list of  about ten hotels but over time the list was shortened as we returned over and over again  to a few firm favourites,  the Parkroyal / Crown Plaza  being one of these. (The Elms on Papanui Road and Strawberry Fare, formerly of  Peterborough street being two others on our favourites list).

I also have another friend, who’s not had an easy road in life… we’ve known each other for decades too and shared many ups and downs and still enjoy excellent contact even though we now live on opposite sides of the globe.

When she found the man of her dreams, Himself and I saved pennies and annual leave to travel to New Zealand and attend her wedding.  Kiwi Daughter was three and a half at the time and had chicken-pox the week before the wedding, so looked fabulous in her beautiful princess-like dress and face full of spots.

Since this was one of my oldest friends and family ties and other factors meant that a  honeymoon holiday wasn’t possible, Himself and I decided that a stay at the penthouse honeymoon suite and dinner at the Parkroyal / Crown Plaza would make an ideal wedding gift, which turned out to be brilliantly received and they had a fabulous time.

Therefore in recent times I’ve always looked at the top floor of this hotel and remembered what a fabulous gift  idea this turned out to be for my friend, and at the bottom of the hotel to think of the fond memories of the Breakfast Club.

After the earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011 the Crown Plaza was extensively damaged… literally broken down the middle. The company that owned it exhausted every avenue they could to see if it could be repaired but entire sections of the building were on a lean and  the cost and logistics of bringing the building up to the new increased building code were prohibitive.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When I took these photographs in January 2012 the hotel was in a sorry state, curtains flapped out of open or broken windows… no lives were lost here but the building was evacuated and abandoned, and now work was taking place to slowly empty the building of chattels, then strip it down to it’s bare bones ready for demolition.

When a large, shallow earthquake hits at very high velocity, and your building is standing almost at  the epicentre of the quake, then there is little that even the strongest of building codes can do to save it.

This building did it’s job, it stayed up even in it’s broken state, no one died and people could be safely evacuated. Now begins the slow task of taking it down piece by piece.

Across the road on the corner is also an empty space where there used to be a large and I  think it was a fairly new building, if memory serves me correctly there was a little Bistro on the corner the name of which eludes me at present.

Another of my top favourite buildings  is just in camera view looking south down Durham Street on the Lichfield Corner. It’s the Canterbury Horse Bazaar  and is a small but stunningly beautiful brick building. From what I see, the roof is being removed… repair or ready for demolition too? I don’t know.

I’ve included some screen-shots from Google Earth and Google Street View to give you an idea of how the Crown Plaza and the Horse Bazaar looked before the earthquakes struck.

Already by the time I write this post the hotel is gone and all that is left is an empty space… but in my mind’s eye there will always be a beautiful building and many memories.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Google Street View)

(photograph © Google Street View)

(photograph © Google Street View)

(photograph © Google Earth)

(photograph © Google Street View)

October 4, 2012

Bascilica Damage: Mary Does an About Turn and the Angels Survive…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Roman Catholic Basilica in Christchurch is at present just a shadow of it’s former self…

…although  who knows what will happen even though the building has joined a select few on a short-list of historic buildings that many Christchurch residents have indicated that they would like to see saved at any cost.

The others are the Christchurch Anglican Cathedral, Canterbury Provincial Buildings, and the  Arts Centre and they are on this short-list  because these buildings are so tied up in the identity of the city that their loss should be considered only as a very last resort .

The financial feasibility of saving them is of course a totally different issue and every large aftershock that continues amongst the multitude of small tremors,  adds additional damage  millimetre by millimetre to the already weakened structures.

These aftershocks have proved to be the fatal nails in the coffin for many historic buildings around the city so it remains to be seen if the Roman Catholic Basilica and the other top  historic buildings can withstand the shaking until the tremors subside to pre-September 201o levels.

One strange thing happened during the February 2011 earthquake, there was a large statue of the Virgin Mary in the bell tower that usually faced the bell-ringers  but during the earthquake she turned a full 180 degrees to look instead out of the window behind her, amazingly the statue remained upright during the entire process  although she did get a little chipped by falling masonry.

(Local Carmelite nuns have since repaired her).

The angels above the main entrance to the nave survived the quakes, the stone cross that once stood on the parapet just above them did break off and was hanging  precariously over the edge, so was quickly removed for safety reasons.

It’s nice to see that the angels survived,  no mean feat considering that each of the tall towers either side of them plunged past during the shaking.

Hopefully it can all be restored…  of course it’s still too early to tell, but I will hopefully be back in Christchurch in a few years time and will continue to document the decisions and events that will decide the future of this stunning building.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 3, 2012

Lean On Me When You’re Not Strong And I’ll Be Your Friend, I’ll Help You Carry On…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Roman Catholic Basilica in Christchurch New Zealand may well be damaged but extraordinary measures are being taken to ensure that the building doesn’t deteriorate further whilst options are being deliberated and even more importantly, whilst they wait for the aftershocks to ease off.

Once again the humble shipping container is being employed to shore up shaken structures, and on both the eastern and eastern sides of the transept shipping containers are stacked high to help the Cathedral withstand the many aftershocks that have continued to rock the city in the last two years.

The space where the Cathedral walls and the shipping containers  could make contact has been filled with hay bales, a very low tech but highly efficient buffer material that has the flexibility to cushion and absorb energy from the aftershocks as the building deals with the motion of the earth.

The massive cracks in the transept walls are a reminder of just how extensive the damage is and what a lot of work is going to be needed  to restore this building… with ongoing aftershocks further damaging the already weakened structure it’s uncertain if restoration is even possible.

In the meantime it probably largely due to the shipping containers and hay bales that the Cathedral hasn’t collapsed already.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Maybe if the Cathedral can be repaired, the first song played should be dedicated to the humble shipping container, and the tune should be the Bill Wither’s song:   “Lean on Me…” as the words are poignantly appropriate…

“Lean On Me”

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain, we all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

Please, swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

If there is a load
You have to bear that you can’t carry
I’m right up the road, I’ll share your load
If you just call me

Call me (If you need a friend)
Call me (Call me uh-huh)
Call me (When you need a friend)
Call me (If you ever need a friend)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (If you need a friend)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/billwithers/leanonme.html

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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