An incremental rebuild. A re-activated Central City in post-quake Christchurch

Design King Company were finalists in the Breathe a New Urban Village International Housing Competition in Christchurch. The competition was billed as “an opportunity explore and provide the blue print for the rebuilding of a new compact and sustainable city after the devastating earthquakes”.


Their team believed that the re-population and activation of the central city would be underpinned by the provision of affordable, quickly realized mixed-use housing, with a high quality public realm that was adaptable and flexible enough to respond to the dynamic of the rebuild. We envisaged an “incremental model” that would help in the creative transformation of the city from a place of trauma and disaster into something more progressive, energetic and optimistic.

They imagined a central Christchurch of finer grain and scale, better connected by public transport, by foot and by bicycle. They considered how the city could encourage and facilitate opportunities for young, clever and ambitious people to engage with the public realm and reinvent the city in a form suitable and attractive a younger generation. Precincts that had developed and innovative systems of governance that empowered and encouraged individuals and communities to make changes and adaptations to the environment as it evolved in the projected course of the rebuild, allowing the city to not only rebuild but to flourish. They saw the recovery of the central city as dependant on the provision of affordable and mixed-use housing solution that was replicable and scalable as a piece of thinking, not just a singular piece of design.

However by divesting Government of any role in openly or comprehensibly supporting the delivery of these ambitions, it ultimately compromised the key driver for delivering a sustainable and activated central city in post earthquake Christchurch. Mr Jon  King, Architect, Design King Company will speak at the 7th International Urban Design Conference about the year-long competition process that might teach us about the how affordable, compact and liveable urban environments might be created, funded and governed.


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