I’ve noticed a real move to creating more interesting public spaces, particularly car parks. Here in Christchurch, we’ve had to completely rebuild all the central city car parks after the earthquakes six years ago, and as many businesses return to city locations, the need for car parks has increased. Maybe in a few years’ time, there will be a more sustainable form of transport, we’ll all biking into work, or we’ll be working in different environments, but for the here and now, car parks are a necessity.
Prior to the quakes, we were lucky enough to previously have a colourful mural of jet planes, tractors and other forms of transport on the walls of the now demolished Manchester Street car park,
Takaka artist Chris Finlayson, who painted the murals with Dean Blundell in 1995, was very disappointed that because they had been painted on concrete panels they were unable to be saved when the building was demolished. He commented in an article in the Press shortly before the car park was demolished that “they had given people a lot of joy over the years”.
But until now, generally in Christchurch, car parks have been uninteresting cubes with few redeeming features.
So… imagine my delight when I walked into the underground car park of the Christchurch Art Gallery whilst carrying out an accessibility assessment on Be Accessible’s behalf for the Social Enterprise World Forum which is happening around several central city venues in September of this year. The stunning colourful pillars – all part of the gallery’s base isolator earthquake proofing system- just pop out at you. I couldn’t fail to smile! Even the lifts up to street level from the car park have creatively painted walls so you are immersed into the art gallery right from the outset.
The gallery is hoping to have large scale exhibitions down here at some point, so if you’re in Christchurch, watch this space!
One of the other new car parks at the end of the Justice Precinct which will house the High Court, Departments of Corrections and Ministry of Justice, as well as the central police station, also has a beautiful wall of metallic feathers crafted out of laser cut metal. This is a stunning display in the city and one to put a smile on your face.
Other parking buildings have added planter boxes with greenery along their outer walls, which at least adds a touch of colour to an otherwise large concrete box.
So, congratulations to those people who have attempted to put a bit of fun into the mundane – a little bit of planning and addition of fun can make all the difference to how you view the day!