20 Dec 2018

Playful pool noodles and a place to rest and heal have sprouted in the Square.

Noodlescape and Time to Heal are the first of a trio of pop-up gardens(external link) designed to bring a splash of colour and nature to Cathedral Square.

They are two of the winners in a competition organised by Christchurch City Council’s Enliven Places Programme(external link). Entrants were asked to come up with a garden design that featured a seating area, greenery and colour within a compact space. An independent panel came up with a shortlist and then a public vote decided the top three designs.

Noodlescape, which has been installed this week near the Distinction Hotel, is a contemporary garden based around 180 pool noodles and native plants in a design that invites playfulness. The artists, GEDES Studio based in Thailand, were inspired to create a garden that would add colour and fun to the square and spark community interaction.

“We hope that our small installation will have a significant impact leaving Noodlescape explorers feeling excited, restored and connected to the community,” says GEDES Spokesperson Nithirath Chaemchuen.

Local charitable trust Greening the Rubble is delivering the project.

Time to Heal was designed by Avonhead School supported by Katherine Booker, who is a mum to two sons and an enthusiastic gardener. She enlisted help from children at the school to design, build and plant the garden, including her son Thomas, who is a year 6 student.

Four planter boxes outline the space and a central pohutukawa tree has a 12-sided timber bench built around it. The shape was inspired by the hours of a clock and the four raised beds are like the points on a compass.

Herbs, such as thyme and rosemary, and rongoā (traditional Māori medicine) plants, fill the planter boxes. Each of the 32 different plants have a QR code which visitors can scan to find out more about them. The children have put this information into a website(external link) they’ve developed with help from Avonhead School teacher Mandy Dempsey.

Mrs Booker says it’s a garden for reflection. “It’s about the past and the present and moving forward. It’s for individuals to take a break in but it’s also about the wider community and the city needing time to heal. I’m pleased the kids enjoyed being part of it as well.”

The third winner is Stained Glass Pavilion, designed by Tamsin Harrington and Dirk Vesser, which uses tinted acrylic panels set within a laser-cut steel pergola to create the look of a stained glass tunnel surrounded by lush greenery. It will be installed in January.

Council Head of Urban Design, Regeneration and Heritage, Carolyn Ingles says the pop up gardens will add a new element to Cathedral Square, making it more nature-focused and colourful.

“We think these gardens will provide another fun reason for people to visit the central city and reconnect with Cathedral Square.”

The designers have been supported by industry partners Rough and Milne, Grounds and Services, and Evergreen to help deliver their garden designs.

It is planned that the pop up gardens will remain in the Square until at least April.

At the end of the project consideration will be given to what plants and other items can be reused or donated to the community. The Time to Heal garden will be donated to Avonhead School.