Rebuild the CBD – or?

Parked in one part of my head, is the human tragedy. We know one who is missing, and were heaving sighs of relief as the others reported in.

The other part of my head – I know, some of you will be surprised to learn there is one – is thinking about the ‘rebuild’.

There will be a first patch-up, of course. 50-80% of water and sewerage will be gotten back on, the residual will take longer. It’s absolutely the gaussian curve that applies to peak oil, and anything else. You simply cherry-pick the best/easiest first, and the worst/hardest last.

Then will come the questions about what to ‘rebuild’. They’ll attempt to re-establish exactly what they had, of course, with earthquake-resistance built into it. History tells us that this is what happens – with the possible exceptions of that bunch of houses in the cliffs (I’ll fill that in when I remember who) from the folk who ran into desertification/salinity problems.

The key to ‘what to build’, is in the initials, and it’s the ‘B’. Business. Central Business district.

Lets look at what is happening; brick-and-mortar retail is giving way to direct on-line sales, paper is giving way to bunches of zapping electrons. Add in peak oil, the need for efficiencies, assume the removal of all parasitic activity (sales, marketing, some management, bling activities) and you’ve removed 80% of what goes on in a CBD.

If you look at what happened in England during WW2, they farmed out Spitfire production to ‘satellite’ sites (some were furniture manufacturers and the like) so that bombing couldn’t take out production – as it could have if there was one site. The same can be said for the internet – you can chop off limbs forever, but you cannot knock out the system.

So – more working from home, in single-storey, lightweight (it’s the key to it – lack of mass) buildings. More small distribution hubs, maybe no big one at all. Is Christchurch better positioned to make the morph? No, but it’s in a better position to ascertain what is appropriate in the future.

Underground services were always a concern, I was raising the issue in relation to peak oil, back in 1986, on the Silverpeaks County. Not in relation to earthquakes, but in relation to the energy required to access them. Those overhead poles may ‘look ugly’, but they can be shinnied up, don’t get flooded, can be visually checked………..no, underground services were an arrogance. A ‘we’re superior to nature’ statement. Clearly, we’re not – but I doubt we’ll learn the bigger lesson.

Same offer as yesterday to anyone from Chch – you need a place to bolt to or to regroup, just holler.

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