A few weeks ago I was the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona. The theme of the event was all about making a difference, and it looked at all of the natural disasters that have occurred in the past year and the work that is now being done to rebuild those cities and neighbourhoods affected.

One of the many interesting speakers was from New Zealand. The majority of Christchurch was destroyed in the 2011 earthquake, 45% of the buildings in the central city have safety problems and 1000 of the 4000 buildings are expected or have been demolished. (10,000 houses would also need to be demolished). As they begin efforts to rebuild the city they are realizing that they have the chance to get things right this time. Despite the tragedy of the loss, it is an amazing opportunity to rebuilt the city in a more sustainable way. Some of the discussions are around how it is important not to move too fast. It is important to take the time for reflection, for conversation and that is exactly what they are doing.

I found these discussions very positive but also very exciting. If you had the chance to change something about your city, to rebuild part of it from scratch, what would you do? What makes a city strong and vibrant. Would it be to create more parks? more pedestrian spaces? to make space for farmers and artist markets? to mix business premises and living residences? How would you build sustainability concepts into the buildings and infrastructure right from the start?