Christchurch: Rebuild or relocate? | The Jackal

26 Feb 2011

Christchurch: Rebuild or relocate?

Audio Version.

What do you do when there are huge sinkholes swallowing up cars and trucks, silt washing all over the place, buildings falling on top of you and the ground beneath you continues to shake? Shifting Christchurch is a consideration many people will not like to make, but in the aftermath of Christchurch’s largest aftershock earthquake event ever, some hard decisions need to be made.

A cost effectiveness of repair versus relocation needs to be made. I would surmise that the expense would be similar in both cases. This would make relocating Christchurch because of potential further earthquakes in an area prone to liquefaction a good idea.

One must factor in how many homes are damaged (200 in the initial 2010 Earthquake) and whether relocating the ones that aren’t damaged can be achieved. The army and private contractors would seem the logical choices for such a huge undertaking. In my opinion, damaged buildings should be dismantled and the materials used for further construction or simply demolished. Damaged heritage sites could be secured and then cordoned off as tourist attractions. Suburban areas could be reforested to help stabilize the ground.

We must also consider infrastructure relocation because of climate change causing rising sea levels, which will be required sometime in the future. Such an undertaking will need to be made for many coastal townships around New Zealand and the sooner we prepare, the better. The scientist’s predictions are getting a lot worse re global warming with many saying that climate change is now unstoppable.

If the ice covering Greenland melted, this would add 7 meters to the oceans. Also to consider is that as the overall temperature of the water increases it naturally expands.

Although unlikely to completely melt, Antarctica has around 90 percent of the world's ice (and 70 percent of its fresh water). If all of the Antarctic ice melted, sea levels around the world would rise about 61 meters (200 feet). Even a small increase in temperature is causing the worlds ice to melt. I’m not fear mongering you know.

The Christchurch Cathedral is 20.33 feet or 6.2 metres above sea level.

There’s been a good idea to have an international competition to design the new Christchurch. Clear guidelines for any construction process should keep in mind that the Christchurch earthquake is not an isolated event. My initial thoughts would be to retain the heritage value of Christchurch within the design while incorporating state of the art energy efficiency that can withstand large earthquakes. The look of a new Christchurch could be very different indeed.

Will keep you posted.