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Christchurch: Retracing the Line

In the 15 months since Christchurch’s devastating earthquake, over 1200 buildings have been put on the demolition list. Lee Suckling talks to one designer dedicated to remembering a few heritage gems.

Christchurch: Retracing the Line


May 23rd, 2012

As the central business district cordons open up and people return to work, there are noticeable holes in the city of Christchurch.

“We’ve started to see lots of gaps where heritage buildings used to be – and everyone is quickly forgetting what was there,” says designer Stephen McCarthy, whose original studio was demolished last year, with everything inside.

“And it’s happened really fast.”

Alongside Laura Griffiths, whose studio was also torn down, McCarthy created the project retraceit.


“We’ve made a limited edition poster depicting 24 of the lost old characters in our city,” he says.

While the city’s iconic Cathedral is set for demolition, McCarthy and Griffiths’ aim is to pay homage to the buildings that mattered to them and their peers.

“The Cathedral wasn’t a place we hung out. Our city was full of bars and cafés like Goodbye Blue Monday, C4 and the Harbourlight Theatre; all of which were from the early 20th century and they’re now gone.”


Aiming to produce something timeless for like-minded design advocates, McCarthy and Griffiths used simple line drawings as a constraint to depict each heritage building recollected.

“A lot of the remembrance art coming out of Christchurch is touristy; either super realistic or watercolour,” McCarthy says.

“We wanted to strip away the details and focus on the strong basic lines that made these buildings iconic to us.”


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