Placemaking at One Central

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How Placemaking is creating new connections at One Central.

When the 2010/11 series of earthquakes struck Christchurch, the central city area that is now One Central, was utterly devastated and following the emergency demolition of the remaining damaged buildings, just blocks of flat land. Fletcher Living Stakeholder and Community Manager, Mark Doyle explains:

“Placemaking at One Central is the name we gave to this whole programme of activity that's been happening over the last six years, across six city blocks as the One Central residential development has been staged out. When we first started off with Placemaking at One Central, we knew it was going to be quite hard and we thought there's going to be so many challenges along the way. There's no presence there. There's no people there. There's no community there. We really wanted to allow those empty spaces and vacant superlots to be opened up and used by the public.”

Watch the video below to learn more about some of the installations and initiatives that our ‘Placemaking at One Central’ programme delivered for our growing community. 


To get the placemaking project off the ground, Mark knew he needed some support and called on Ryan Reynolds at Gap Filler who specialise in creating community focused playful engagements. He also knew they had boots on the ground and the experience in delivering successful installations and activations across the city.

Ryan Reynolds, Director at Gap Filler describes their mission: “Gap Filler's mission is to help connect people to place, so we help create the conditions for playful engagements, surprise, experimental things that people can do or be involved in that will help connect them to place. Almost every project came through a process of engagement, existing community groups, residents and so on, expressing the things that they wanted in their neighbourhood.”

The Detour Pump Track

One of the most popular parts of the placemaking program at One Central has been the Detour Pump Track. It’s a fun BMX/scooter/skate track they anyone can use – kids and adults alike. You see BMXers doing amazing jumps and toddlers just scooting around with big grins. The weekends especially see the track packed as the community makes the most of this fantastic resource.

Good Spot. Good surprise.

According to Ryan Reynolds, Good Spot parking was the biggest surprise of the program as they never initially thought car parking would be a great way to deliver placemaking.

“It actually created a sense of community at the car park through the way we did it with morning parking attendants, meeting and greeting people, giving discounts to people who were carpooling. All the money earned from the car park went back into the placemaking at One Central programme. We worked with a lot of people who'd been long-term unemployed for a range of health and other reasons, and they acted as our morning meet and greeters”, says Ryan.

Mark Doyle agrees – especially on those cold Christchurch winter mornings, seeing the interactions between staff and the community in the Good Spot car park has been just fantastic.

The Tool Lendery.

As the city comes back to life, Fletcher Living has completed 250 homes with hundreds more on the way, with potentially 3000 residents, there is always going to be a need for a bit of DIY. So, the idea of a tool library, or ‘Tool Lendery’ is somewhat inspired as many people were downsizing from quarter-acre suburban homes to central city living. Having a place where they can come and borrow a tool and get a bit of advice was smart way to stimulate central city living.

Mark Doyle explains: “As well as lending tools, Gap Filler were able to put on workshops for all of our residents. Lots of creative things, and lots of functional advice for people moving into new homes. “

Central City Youth Space.

Another important initiative has been engaging with the youth of the city and surrounding communities. The great thing about the ‘Central City Youth Space’, was that Gap Filler were able to put on so many different events at that space. Gap Filler also installed giant art spray cans as blank canvass’, so all those taggers around the city could unload all their creativity onto those giant installations. Ryan Reynolds believes the most successful outcome of the Youth Central space was just bringing life into that space.

As ever it’s all about people, for Christchurch to be an international city once more, it needs the buzz and the people living in the city centre.

Ryan Reynolds sums it up nicely. “Christchurch wasn't a place where inner city apartment living was well established. What they (Fletcher Living) are finding now is they can't build them fast enough. That's what placemaking can help do. Provide opportunities or outlets for people to put their love or care for their place into action to make it something public and share that improves the neighborhood for everyone.

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