Both building and landscape. A temporary open courtyard for events made out of materials that can be dismantled and reused, namely blue chep shipping pallets. Gap Filler is a community organisation in Christchurch who fill gaps left by the earthquake’s destruction of buildings. The pavilion is just one of their many community projects, and the biggest. I was on the design team along with three other recent graduate architects and support crew of other professions.
The project was built by entirely by volunteers and donated materials late 2012 and as at the date of this blog it is still in use for all sorts of events even though we expected to have to dismantle it before winter.
The result is a tremendously flexible space that is both building and landscape. Casual visitors are marveled by it even though many are unsure how to interpret it to begin with. The hosts, Amy and Glen Jansen have had the honour of hosting the venue with events and they have done exceptionally well at encouraging people to imagine the possibilities. So far the pallet pavilion has held, many music gigs, picnics, kids parties, twilight markets, buskers, lectures, talks, performances, a wedding reception, a commemorative February 22 event, outdoor cinema, bike fix-it night and a silent disco.
While the project is an experiment, an alternative interpretation of a venue, it is still required to conform to regulations designed for buildings. It has a building consent, maximum capacity of 250 people, four toilets, marked fire exits, an alarm, noise limits and 24/7 onsite security presence. As for the future, the original concept was to deconstruct it before winter 2013 and the maintenance costs of 24/7 security is unsustainable but who wants to volunteer to pull it down?
My most visible contribution is of course the plants. Thousands of donated plants were repotted into small square plastic pots to fit into the pallet walls. I chose long leaved plants to add to the lineal effect of the repeated pallet texture. Also donated was four large oak trees which now live in a container made of pallets. An irrigation system feeds each pot and tree with its appropriate water needs. All plants will be re-homed at the end of the project.
All pallets will go back into circulation. The concrete foundations which were floors from a demolished building nearby, will become culvert bridges for local Canterbury farmers. Everything else will be repurposed into gap filler’s next project whatever that may be.