Gap filler project Christchurch image via joceykinghorn/flickr. Creative Commons 2.0 license.
When two major earthquakes hit Christchurch, New Zealand in 2010 and 2011, this coastal city of 400,000 was all but destroyed. What remains—historic facades propped up by shipping containers, buildings crumbling in on themselves, razed blocks covered in well-mowed grass— looks as though multiple post-apocalyptic movie sets were placed side by side.
But, walking around post-disaster Christchurch, it becomes clear that the earthquakes also shook loose a deep reserve of creative talent. Soon after the quakes, activist groups like Gap Filler and Greening the Rubble began developing temporary projects designed to bring community life, joy, art, and commerce back to the decimated city center.