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Christchurch Post Earthquake Developmental Ladder Award Three: “Campus Central” in the Draft Central City Plan

The third proposed Ladder Award is for the Christchurch City Council planners who have in the Draft Central City Plan grouped a number of proposed tertiary education projects in a “Campus Central” planning frame (in the section on Tertiary Education, page 77). Along with the Christchurch City Council, the promoters of these specific projects also deserve to share in this proposed Award.

A legal requirement for the Christchurch City Council to produce a Central City Plan at this stage has usefully coincided with the need for post-earthquake reconstruction. The draft version of this Plan  was published for comment in August.

The planners underlined in it the importance of international students to the city, and the importance also of international students, local students and other residents all being able to mix well together.

The proposed tertiary educational projects are heavily concentrated within a kilometre of the Christchurch Polytech Institute of Technology in the southern sector of the central city. This Ladder Award blog will note the potential for a village precinct to emerge where a creative mix of education, technological innovation, social mixing and entertainment arts could induce people to socialise, live, study, work and shop.

The projects proposed include co-located educational amenities and a student village. There are also existing and proposed entertainment-related amenities that could really help to enliven the precinct.

1. Co-located private and public tertiary education providers

The Plan notes how before the earthquakes there had been in the Central City a “wide range of tertiary-level, private education providers”. These delivered courses to New Zealand students on topics such as business studies, computing, hairdressing, hospitality and tourism, along with international students here to learn English.

Having been closed or destroyed with the earthquakes there is now scope for these institutions, in the words of the Plan, “for a range of smaller private and public tertiary education providers to co-locate in an integrated, purpose-built campus in the Central City.”

So redevelopment framed around a “Campus Central” concept is proposed. This involves creating total study and living environment for students in the city, including

student study facilities with accommodation and other services to provide a desirable living and learning environment that makes use of existing lanes, open space and new, dynamic streetscapes that attract students and economic activity back into the Central City.

2. A Student Village Project in a village atmosphere

Also seen in the Plan as integral to the Campus Central frame is the Student Village project. This project had been jointly floated by the University of Canterbury, Lincoln University and Christchurch Polytechnic shortly before the earthquakes. It can now take on added point and purpose in the context of post-earthquake central city redevelopment. The Plan notes how the student village project would help to bring a village aspect to Campus Central:

A student village accommodation facility in the southern area of the Central City is proposed as an integral part of Campus Central to create a village atmosphere for the city’s tertiary students and help connect their studies with the city in which they live. It is recognised that students living and studying in the Central City add vibrancy to an area.

The mixing of international students with local residents is to be encouraged. The Plan notes how such an educational precinct could enable and encourage local residents and international students to come together in an environment where there are “stimulating learning environments” and they can connect “with business innovation to promote success”.

With respect to business innovation and education, it is well worth observing here how the southern area of the central city is usefully framed geographically to the north by the proposed Enterprise Precinct and Innovation Campus (Epic) and, less than a kilometer to the south, by the Christchurch Polytech. The Plan noted how the Polytech trains some 30,000 students annually. Potential rapid transport links to Canterbury University some 6 kilometers or so away are also being investigated.

3. Campus Central in a Jazz Village?

There is also a well-established Polytech Jazz School within this proposed (kilometer or so) precinct, and the city council is looking favorably at locating an arts circus hub nearby. (Roll up, the circus wants to come to town)

All of which indicates considerable potential to make the village precinct a lively, happening place.

The value of adding coffee and other bars and restaurants to encourage people to meet, converse and enjoy themselves will be obvious. A useful precedent was perhaps set by the Goodbye Blue Monday bar in the area before the earthquakes. Owned and run by a former mayor and his family, it hosted lively and productive discussion evenings led often by stimulating and informed guest speakers. This sort of thing could go down very well in an intelligent, forward-looking innovative village precinct.

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