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Christchurch earthquakes

Christchurch’s Monday’s 6.3 earthquake at a depth of 6.1 Kilometers was, yet again, on a fault no one knew about.

Many more buildings, including churches, were damaged, and further battered. Lyttelton’s historic Anglican church has now gone. The iconic rose window of the Anglican Cathedral collapsed on Monday. The Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament now looks beyond saving.

When the words “rebuild” and “the” are used in association with the Anglican Cathedral as in “we will rebuild the cathedral”, some/many are hearing this as putting the previous building back or making a replica of it. Closer reading shows that the speakers do not mean that by those words. Earlier I wrote that I suspected a replica would be made of the 19th century building. I now am far less convinced of that.

Generally, people’s frustration is growing. Many have been without water, power, and/or sewerage for long periods. Flooding, silt, raw sewerage, broken houses, slow official responses, and insurance disputes are some of the ongoing aggravations. Nearly one-fifth of people in a Press online poll say they are planning to leave Christchurch because of the earthquakes. Another quarter said they would leave if they could, but were held back by either their property or job. Scientists keep making probability predictions which are clearly un-falsifiable and so not Science, and only add to the sense of confusion and panic. Rumours are rampant that much of the land cannot be built on again – I have heard suggestions of 50% of Christchurch and 13 suburbs. That includes rumours about the CBD and Cathedral Square. This morning’s front page of the Press reports being prepared for the possibility of the whole city moving west.

Buildings built very recently have not withstood the earthquakes and are to be taken down. These are to supposedly-stringent codes making promises of a safe future Christchurch ring hollow.

The legalities of having each individual city building owner responsible for the deconstruction, demolition, and removal of rubble of their individual building appears to me to be unbelievably ridiculous. Any glance down streets in the closed central-city “red zone” shows whole rows of buildings reduced to rubble which IMO could/should have been moved by now except for each building owner being responsible for their own pile.

I have previously written about my fear that a decade or two down the track when there is a new Christchurch here it will be in the now-beloved “I can draw rectangles” style of architecture. Ernest Henshaw recently better articulated my concerns in an article in which he argued that the decision to rule out, in advance, any alteration to the city’s grid of streets, any interference with property titles, and any interference with surviving buildings, will mean that we will end up with what we had previously only in a tilt slab version.

We may have an opportunity to create something visionary, and the church(es) may too. That IMO will require a qualitatively new approach.

image source rose window
image source Cathedral West end

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15 thoughts on “Christchurch earthquakes”

  1. Laurel Genteman

    I was shocked when I saw this on Facebook today…Ive heard nothing in the news.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the people of Christchurch.

  2. My response, Bosco, to your thought-provoking article on the Cathedral Re-build, is to echo the concept “Man proposes, while God disposes”. Whatever may be our plans, humanly-speaking, for the development of plans for the future of the Cathedral – these must always be subordinate to the future of the community that will use it for the worship of God. Buildings, of themselves, may be iconic. But if they are erected without due respect for the natural environment, they will end up as just iconic rubble.

    1. I think this is really sad baeucse it has also gone to Japan and the warning countries are: Manila,India,Tiwan and other countries near Japan. I feel really bad about people who died baeucse they didn’t even knew if it will come there. The most happened in Japan and all over our school, people are talking about it. I wish them luck and I hope they will be safe!

  3. What a sad tragedy! Thank you for the clear and honest update. Thoughts and prayers for all concerned!

    The Church will endure – if not the buildings.

  4. Slightly related to the topic: I noticed a news report about a famous analog electronics engineer (like me, except for the famous bit), who died on the way back from a funeral. I don’t know if it was a heart attack from the stress, or weariness/distraction from the grief, but had to think there are warnings for us (me) in Christchurch with not just continuing quakes but constant talk about the sad plight many have. As a result I have started making a determined effort to think of ways to help others, or ways that I have been helped (e.g. a music concert on Saturday) that lifted me and is worth talking to others about (instead of the “e” word).

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