A Textbook Case of How Not to “Build Back Better”? Christchurch after the Earthquakes (2010, 2011)

Matthewman, Steve and Byrd, Hugh (2020) A Textbook Case of How Not to “Build Back Better”? Christchurch after the Earthquakes (2010, 2011). Technical Report. World Urban Forum.

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A Textbook Case of How Not to “Build Back Better”? Christchurch after the Earthquakes (2010, 2011)
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Abstract

The idea of Building Back Better (BBB) has assumed the status of orthodoxy within post-disaster reconstruction. It is enshrined in the guiding principles of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (UNISDR, 2015). Yet despite widespread desires to do so, cities routinely fall short of this aim. In one expert’s bald assessment: ‘No one builds back better’ (Hopkins, 2018). Glenn Fernandez and Iftekhar Ahmed’s (2019) survey of the relevant literature draws a similar conclusion. ‘The promise to not re-create or exacerbate pre-disaster vulnerabilities has generally been unfulfilled. Although the BBB narrative talks about the improvement of communities, translating this narrative into practice is rarely observed.’ This report asks the all-important question, ‘why not?’ It explores this general failure through a specific case study, the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, following the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Some take this to be a paradigmatic case of how not to BBB. A keynote speaker at the Asia Pacific Rim Universities 15th Multi-Hazards Symposium in Mexico in October 2019 concluded that the Christchurch rebuild has involved the greatest amount of money spent on disaster recovery for the smallest results across the longest period of time (cited in Kenney and Phibbs, forthcoming). In examining the complexities of re-constituting urban form, this report seeks to add to our knowledge of recovery, which remains both the least researched aspect of disasters (Mileti, 1999) as well as the least understood (Berke, Kartez, & Wenger, 1993; Tierney, 2019).

Keywords:post-disaster rebuilding, Christchurch New Zealand, reconstruction, earthquake, disaster recovery
Subjects:L Social studies > L310 Applied Sociology
J Technologies > J910 Energy Technologies
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K440 Urban studies
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:40129
Deposited On:23 Mar 2020 16:13

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