Wesener, A. (1). Temporary urbanism and urban sustainability after a natural disaster: transitional community-initiated open spaces in Christchurch, New Zealand. Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability, 8(4), 406–422. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17549175.2015.1061040
Temporary uses of vacant urban spaces are usually not foreseen in conventional urban planning and have often been linked to economic or political disturbances. In New Zealand, Christchurch’s vacant spaces came into existence after the city was hit by several devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. Parallel to the ‘official’ rebuild dis- course, temporary uses have emerged on vacant post-earthquake sites including community gardens, urban agriculture, art installations, event venues, eateries and cafés, and pocket parks. Based on the review and analysis of exemplary transitional community-initiated open spaces and correlated literature, the paper looks at how the post-disaster urban context in Christchurch has influenced particular aspects of temporary urbanism in comparison with case studies in non-disaster environments. By focusing on the anticipated benefits of community-initiated open spaces, the paper dis- cusses the relevance of temporary uses of vacant urban spaces for urban sustainability in relationship to concepts of community resilience and raises questions about possible long-term values.
The article suggests that temporary urbanism in a post-disaster context might contribute to urban sustainability by creating opportunities for positive emotions and experiences, encouraging experimentation and innovation, creating and strengthening social capital, and fostering community empowerment. The production of transitional community-initiated open spaces in post-disaster Christchurch is distinguished from other case studies in a number of key aspects, including planning processes, alternative agendas, acceptance of the temporary status and support by local authorities.
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Of practical use