Aurecon delivers digital technology and engineering expertise for the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan.


Christchurch Earthquake Recovery, New Zealand

Building back better in Christchurch

In September 2010, Ōtautahi Christchurch was awakened by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, followed by a massive 6.3 magnitude aftershock on 22 February 2011, which struck near the heart of the city.

The violent shaking and liquefaction caused extensive damage to homes, buildings and infrastructure, and most commercial buildings in the central city had to be demolished. Although devastating, the scale of damage created an unprecedented opportunity to rethink, revitalise and renew the city.

Feedback from the local community and Iwi Ngāi Tahu showed that Cantabrians wanted a greener, more accessible central city with a stronger built identity, that better reflected Ōtautahi’s unique culture and heritage.

The Christchurch Central Recovery Plan encapsulated these aspirations into a defined blueprint for the city. The Recovery Plan outlined a more compact and deliberately structured central city, with defined precincts for Health, Retail, Entertainment, Arts, Sports and Innovation, among others.

Aurecon played a key role in delivering many of the seventeen anchor projects which make up the Recovery Plan, including the Avon River Precinct, the Retail Precinct, the Convention Centre Precinct, the Oxford Terrace Entertainment Precinct, the Parakiore Recreation and Sports Centre and the Bus Interchange.

These projects were about bringing the community together again after the devastation of the earthquakes, so it was important they were engaged in and felt ownership of the outcomes.

Aurecon leveraged digital technology to involve the community in the design process for key rebuild projects, for example developing a virtual reality kayak which allowed Cantabrians to ‘paddle’ a 200 metre section of the Avon River Corridor, and an augmented reality sandbox to demonstrate how stop banks along the river could be moved back to give the community better access to the river, while still protecting surrounding properties.

A truly international city with a thriving heart

A decade on from the catastrophic February 2011 earthquakes, most of the anchor projects are now complete, and Ōtautahi’s vision for a vibrant and prosperous 21st century city has largely been realised. The precincts have created a defined character for the city, while responding to the community’s desire for a more compact and legible central city, well connected by public transport and walking and cycling connections.

Canterbury’s rich cultural and natural heritage has been celebrated with vibrant street art, abundant green space and a built environment that better reflects Ngāi Tahu stories and values. Most importantly, Cantabrians have been actively engaged in the regeneration of their city, ensuring Ōtautahi is a place they can be proud of for many years to come.

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