Monday, March 19, 2012
I've tried to avoid being one of the armchair experts who are common in Christchurch these days. Every time a building is marked for demolition, the heritage lovers come out in droves in "letters to the editor" and elsewhere complaining that CERA are far too ready to order demolition of buildings that could be saved. Clearly their engineers' reports must be from the wrong set of engineers. And then - especially earlier on, not so much now, there are others who claim that not enough is being done to demolish buildings and reopen the city. The silliest comment I heard was one comparing Christchurch to Haiti where apparently only 10% of buildings are being demolished and the rest saved. Really? Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. So could it be that they are pouring billions into rescuing historic buildings? Or could it be that they have lower building standards and are allowing damaged and dangerous buildings to remain standing? In fact - maybe lower building standards is the reason that 200,000 people died in an earthquake no bigger than ours?
I always figured that if building owners, and CERA, had the reports and if the insurance company wouldn't stump up the money - say four million to restore and save a building that could be completely rebuilt for three million - then it was quite understandable, though sad, that the building would be demolished. And that yes, we do need to get the city reopened. I'm beginning to wonder though, as every week we hear of another building, or several, to be demolished due to damage either in the February quake or in one or other of the many aftershocks - when they pull all these buildings down so we can safely get back into the city, will there be anything left to make it worth going there?
So it was really good news to here that Alice in Videoland had reopened. I went down on Saturday after attending a poetry workshop (more of that in another post, perhaps) just to see. I parked the car at what I thought was the nearest point, then had to take a rather convoluted route on foot to find the entrance that wasn't still inside the cordon - the front of the building is not yet accessible. On the way I passed numbers of people and family groups heading back to their cars with DVDs in hand. I didn't actually want to borrow anything just at the moment - more just to see for myself that something positive is happening in the city.
Alice's is a fantastic store, it has what an amazing collection including vast numbers of art house and foreign movies. It also has a very colourful interior as can be seen above. In their refurbishment they have included a small theatre since so many of the city's smaller theatres have been unavailable since the earthquakes.
In addition to the photos above, more can be seen at Christchurch Daily Photo, and in this news article The latter shows the building from the front,which is still cordoned off and inaccessible to the public. The space all around it is shockingly empty, an example of just how much has been lost.
(Apologies for any awkward sentences and bad grammar in this post. I seem to be rather short of editing time lately. I may come back and fix it later, maybe not depending on time).