8 August 2011

Pictures of the earthquake-devastated city centre of Christchurch, New Zealand

Posted by Dave Petley

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to spend a few hours in the “Red Zone”, the closed off city centre of Christchurch, New Zealand.  The number of unstable buildings means that this area is still too dangerous to reopen, and there remains a great deal of demolition to do.  From a distance, this is what the city centre looks like now:

If you look very carefully, you can see the lean on the Grand Chancellor hotel (centre right of the image).  This building came very close to collapse, and is now being slowly dismantled.  From close up the reasons are clear:

There are other large buildings that are also profoundly damaged, although often the issues are less clear.  These two buildings are both leaning (in both cases towards the road).  Note also the deserted streets – it is a very eerie place in which to spend time:

The iconic profoundly damaged building is of course the cathedral.  It is hard to see how it can be recovered without an almost complete rebuild  – note the huge steel buttress propping up the gable end:

Indeed, throughout the city churches performed extremely poorly during the shaking.  This is another example just on the edge of the Central Business District:

In some cases it is not immediately obvious why buildings are dangerous.  This pile of shipping containers, located to protect road users in case the building behind collapses, appears initially to be superfluous:

However, when seen from the opposite direction, the reasons are very clear:

Finally, this rather surreal sight of a shattered shop rather summed up the state of the city centre for me.  Recovery will take a long time: