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Coralie Winn – Gap Filler

Coralie Winn believes many of Christchurch’s residents want the same thing – for their home to continue to be known for its creative, innovative ideas.

Winn was running an artist in residence programme at the historic Arts Centre and was also part of the city’s Free Theatre when the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 struck.

In the midst of the city’s immediate recovery, she established Gap Filler with Dr Ryan Reynolds, an academic, designer and performer, and architectural designer Andrew Just. The aim was to bring life back to vacant sites and empty buildings.

The first project was a multi-arts space with a café, garden and outdoor cinema in November 2010 and the creative urban regeneration initiative has since facilitated more than 70 projects in the city – from a cycle-powered cinema to the popular Dance-O-Mat, Super Street Arcade and Sound Garden.

“Our projects are about experimenting in public space and bringing new ideas and creative projects to life in the city to keep it fun, interesting and accessible. The projects aim to innovate, lead and nurture people and ideas, contributing to conversations about city-making and urbanism in the 21st century.”

Winn says Gap Filler was initially about community, hope and trauma recovery. Now, several years on, "it’s asking the question of who gets to do stuff in a city and how can we enable people to bring more ideas to life to make the city an interesting, unique place to be?”

She says other cities shouldn’t wait for a disaster before benefiting from temporary projects. “Christchurch is seen as a world leader in this respect. People from around the world see what’s happening with Gap Filler as a creative, grassroots project that can be adapted to any urban environment.”

Coralie Winn's top five things to do in Christchurch
  1. Walk up the Bridle Path and down into Lyttelton and visit the Farmers Market on a Saturday morning (bring a backpack for purchases)
  2. A swim at Corsair Bay or surf in Sumner in the summer
  3. Dance outside at the Dance-O-Mat or play a giant outdoor arcade game at Super Street Arcade (both are Gap Filler projects)
  4. Coffee at C1 Espresso, with pneumatic fries and later, a beer at Smash Palace
  5. Walk or ride through the residential red zone in the summer or autumn to collect and forage for fruit, nuts and flowers