After work last night, I met up with Gerard in Auckland city and we went for a walk around Britomart. I’d only heard of Britomart as a transport centre. And until recently, Gerard explained, the area was an urban ghetto – lots of empty and derelict buildings, a place nobody would want to go. Not so now. The area has recently undergone an amazing transformation.
I am truly impressed with this newly built shopping spot – it’s funky and attractive and makes really good use of space. It’s right in the middle of sky-scraper city, and yet the main square was roomy and light with grass and trees and warm sun and lots of people. The buildings are a mix of high-, mid- and low-rise and of old and new. The newest are a set of temporary shops that are described on the website as ‘pop-up shops’.
It inspired me. I imagine that the rubble that is Christchurch could grow into something like this. It was vibrant and alive, full of people, but still functional – a transport centre flowing with traffic.
We need this. We need to rebuild a functioning, functional inner city that people want to work and live in. Until now I really only had a vague picture of what was possible. Now I’ve seen the reality of what we can have. I cross my fingers that those who are rebuilding my place have seen what I saw.
Because standing amongst the glass and brick and cobbles and people, I felt real hope for the first time in almost a year.