CPIT Students Fill the Gap

Wednesday 25 May 2011, 10:40AM


CPIT architecture students have just a few days to breathe life into two cleared sites near their Madras Street campus this week and organisers can’t wait to see what they come up with.

The project, dubbed “Gap Week”, teams 80 architecture students with Gap Filler, an initiative first started after the September earthquake to bring temporary creative arts projects to vacant sites around Christchurch, typically where buildings have been demolished.

The students were introduced to the Gap Filler project on Tuesday this week and were under pressure to develop their concepts before CPIT staff and Gap Filler members select two of the best designs to be created on site. Working in two teams, the students then have until 4pm, Friday 27 May to finish their projects. Both sites, (the ‘Jet Set’ at 270 St Asaph St and ‘The Triangle’ at 19 Ferry Rd) will be open to the public at 5pm.

The project fits well with CPIT’s policy of engagement with the community. “Our teaching staff liked this project from the start,” Keith Power, Head of School of Architectural Studies said. “Our whole Bachelor of Architectural Studies teaching programme is project based and involves applied, practical learning where the students are actively engaged. So the Gap Filler project is absolutely ideal for us. It’s not just studying, drawing or documenting something; it’s actually making it real.

“Gap Filler are presenting the students with a challenging problem. There’ll be multiple and totally unexpected solutions for these two sites. We don’t know what they’ll come up with but we do know this will really extend their creativity, resourcefulness and teamwork – all in a very tight timeframe.”

The brief includes a list of set materials to choose from and a small budget, but is otherwise very much open to the imagination. “I will be introducing students to the Gap Filler philosophy and encouraging the students to think about what the site was, what it is now, what’s nearby, different kinds of traffic and also to think about what the city needs at the moment...” Gap Filler co-creator and director, Coralie Winn said.

“Then, they will need to consider very practical public access aspects such as health and safety, a wet weather plan, how children might interact with the project and so on.

“I can’t wait to see what they come up. Gap Filler encourages creative responses to vacant spaces and input from communities, but this is the first time we have approached a project in this way, handing creative control over to students, so it’s quite different for me too. Instead of working with two or three creative people to design a response to a gap site, I’m working with 80 of them!”

Previous Gap Filler projects have brought live music, performance, dance, film and art installations to four sites in Christchurch. With some funding granted by the city council in February, the team hopes to be able to continue in their mission to contribute to a more interesting and dynamic city in the wake of the quakes by addressing the lack of venues and opportunities for artists and creating vibrant community gathering spaces on vacant land awaiting re-development.