Mad ideas that might work for the Square’s regeneration were offered by Dr Geoffrey Rice at a Heritage Week talk. He put forward four main ideas:
1 Paving should incorporate Maori taanako designs. The Square would then be linked with areas along the river where such designs have already been used, and takata whenua would be acknowledged.
2 Height of surrounding buildings be limited to four storeys. This would give the Square a human scale, and uniformity. The dreaded Telecom building would need to go.
3 Arcades (cloisters) all around the Square, with tables and chairs. We would have shelter from rain and sun, and they could be built on the public land. Any developers would need to make their buildings interactive with the cloisters, if they want to attract the public.
4 The Cathedral – there have been many suggestions as to what will happen, and we are all waiting hopefully for a decision in early December. Dr Rice pointed out that Coventry Cathedral, often offered as a model, is actually two separate buildings, one old and one new. It would be great to have some kind of tower as a central focal point. I fondly remember how in my childhood the Cathedral spire could be seen from a far distance (or so it seemed to me). When we returned to Christchurch I was disappointed to find the spire was no longer able to be used as a reference point because of the tall buildings around it. Despite rumours to the contrary, the definitive Tonkin and Taylor report has shown that there is no problem building on the Cathedral land. We could have some kind of pyramidal spire, built on public land if the Anglicans don’t want to do it. Some suggestions were London’s Gherkin (my favourite!) or Shard, or the Transamerica Tower in San Francisco. I like this idea. Will we have the will (and the money) for it to become reality? What do you think?
“Ideas put forward were not so mad
a focal tower I wish we had.”