Gap Filler is a creative urban regeneration initiative that facilitates a wide range of temporary projects, events, installations and amenities in the city.
These short-term and comparatively small-scale projects are far less risky than new permanent developments – and consequently opens up opportunities for experimentation: trying new ideas, pushing social boundaries, adopting participatory processes to get everyday people involved in creating their city. Working with local community groups, artists, architects, landowners, librarians, designers, students, engineers, dancers – anyone with an idea and initiative – we activate city spaces for temporary, creative, people-centred purposes.
By recycling materials, teaming up with suppliers, harnessing volunteer power and being creative, Gap Filler proves that the regeneration of the city does not rely solely on large-scale developments by the private or public sectors. Great things can be achieved with community power and resourcefulness; we can be flexible and swift in adapting to our changing city, meaning our projects will always provide contemporary reflection on the state of society.
Ultimately, Gap Filler aims to innovate, lead, and nurture people and ideas; contributing to conversations about city-making and urbanism in the 21st century.
Temporary, site-specific projects are still our core activity. But along the way we’ve realised that it’s the principles – especially of experimentation, adaptability and participation – that are most important. Doing temporary projects is one way of lowering the risk to enable those principles to shine, but we’re pursuing any means of fostering more experimentation and meaningful participation in the city, whether that’s through education and work in schools, partnering on large-scale permanent developments, working with Council to create an enabling regulatory framework and incentives for property owners to be more community-minded with the use of their vacant sites and buildings, or anything else in line with our principles.
- Community Engagement – We believe in encouraging and promoting community spirit, growth and awareness by assisting people to experience and participate in artistic projects. We believe that vacant land and buildings present opportunities; through developing and investing in gap sites, communities will recognise the value of social/cultural activities and communal endeavour in building social capital and resilience, stimulating economic development and creating connectedness. We feel that ‘community spirit’ is necessarily related to the idea of ‘the public good’: communities are strongest when working for public benefit, social capital and a flourishing environment.
- Experimentation – We value trying out new things and not repeating ourselves, taking calculated risks to lead by example with high productivity and turnover of projects. We want to draw on the opportunities presented by each site, neighbour, business, community and individual involved.
- Leadership – We believe in leadership, expressing our values through fearless implementation – by doing. We want to celebrate playfulness, hope, critique and positivity. We are living out our values in, and contributing to, a flourishing city.
- Creativity – We esteem the spirit of innovation, exploring new ways of engaging, creating and realising ideas, honouring and promoting the arts and artistic practice and process.
- Resourcefulness – We understand and value resourcefulness as meaning both adaptability and a commitment to re-use, re-purpose and recycle wherever possible.
- Collaboration – We believe in seeking out partners to implement ideas together, as well as co-operating to realise others’ ideas. We feel that collaboration unlocks creative potential.
We also strive to honour the Treaty of Waitangi/Te Tiriti in our projects, approach and relationships. We believe in honouring the stories and histories of this place, Ōtautahi, and its tangata whenua.
Gap Filler was initially formed in response to the September 2010 earthquake in Christchurch, then expanded after the February 2011 quake. It is supported by the Gap Filler Trust and is a registered charity.
Our first project ran from Thursday 25 November until Sunday 5 December, 2010 and involved us transforming an empty site on Colombo Street into a space which hosted a temporary garden café, petanque, live music, poetry readings, outdoor cinema and more. The project was incredibly well-received and utilised, which led to further projects including art installations, concerts, workshop spaces and eventually semi-permanent structures such as the Pallet Pavilion, RAD Bikes and the Dance-O-Mat. All of our previous projects can be read about here.
Along the way we found ourselves being approached for advice by governments, developers, community groups and arts organisations around the world. Over time, we’ve formalised this into an advisory service that strives to help people all around the world get better community engagement, experimentation, creativity and collaboration in their cities. We’ve done work in Auckland, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and around New South Wales, Perth and around Western Australia, Copenhagen, and more. And the proceeds from this work all goes back into supporting our charitable activities and advocacy in Christchurch.
Gap Filler Volunteers
Hundreds of amazing people have made the Gap Filler projects possible. There are far too many to name but all contribute their bit.
The Gap Filler Trust Board
Dr Ryan Reynolds (Chair and Co-Founder), Lance Edmonds (Treasurer), Andrew Just (Co-Founder), Ciarán Fox, Lydia Baxendell (currently on maternity leave til late 2015), Martin Trusttum, Melissa Reimer and Catrina Hunter.
Former board member: Emilie Sitzia
Gap Filler Staff
Gap Filler was initially run entirely by volunteers, but as the volume and scale of our work increased, we were able to secure funding for a core team of staff to make it all possible.
Gap Filler now has 10 paid staff who work the equivalent of 4.3 full time equivalent staff:
Coralie Winn – Co-Founder and Director
Richard Sewell – Project Coordinator
Bec May – Project Coordinator
Rosaria Ferguson – Events Coordinator
Sally Airey – Education and Outreach
Anita Parris – The Commons Coordinator & Admin support
Hannah Airey – Administration power!
Claire Cowles – Sponsorship and Fundraising advice
Simon Gurnsey – ‘The Man’ Technical Assistance
Trent Hiles. Now mostly retired by occasionally helps out on some projects as well as doing some suburban outreach stuff in Lyttelton, mostly.
Here’s a wee bio on each of our staff and Board members. Each was written by someone else to get another perspective on each other’s character, and characters they are! (More coming on our newest team members, Simon, Anita, Bec and Catrina soon.)
Ciarán Fox is one of the trusted Gap Filler Board of Trustees. He has been with us since June 2011 when the Board was first created. Ciarán is also a Mental Health Promoter with the Mental Health Foundation and has given us much valuable information and advice around community wellbeing and is always looking out for the wellbeing of our staff and fellow Board Members, which we like A LOT!
Ciaran is an artist of words and has been Master of Ceremonies at many of our community events. He has a warmth and caring about him which is a joy to be around, and his competitive streak? Well … game on!
Sally Airey manages the education and outreach programme for Gap Filler. Sally has formalised the work that Gap Filler does with young people and taken the Gap Filler message into schools and youth groups across the city. Sally has helped get funding for the education activities and run the programme in a way that has made the most of the money given. Sally started off as volunteer for Gap Filler and is a faithful advocate for what Gap Filler stands for.
Claire Cowles provides Sponsorship and Fundraising advice. Claire works with Coralie and the project coordinators to find in-kind and cash sponsorship for Gap Filler projects to help make Gap Filler’s money go further. Claire is helping Gap Filler become less reliant on grant funding by bringing more corporate and donor relationships to Gap Filler Trust. She’s helping us grow up a bit in some ways! Claire is from the UK and only moved to Christchurch post-quake but is enjoying the lifestyle living in Christchurch allows for her and her young family. Claire was, in her ‘spare time’ responsible for coordinating the highly successful Christchurch Stands Tall project last year.
Gap Filler co-founder and Director, Coralie Winn leads a team of nine people in the creative activation of vacant sites around the city.
She is relationship-focused, creative and determined. Gap Filler’s success can be attributed to Coralie’s ability to engage and involve people from across the community in collaborative projects. She also enjoys dancing like a crazy person in public at the Dance-O-Mat.
Lance Edmonds is the Treasurer for the Trust Board. As an Associate for Kendons Chartered Accountants, Lance contributes his specialist expertise when it comes to trusts, business planning and performance, budgeting and cash flow forecasting and much more! Known for his easy-going manner, he’s regularly called upon for advice and has a knack for explaining financial things in layman’s terms that can be understood by all.
Lydia Baxendell is a trustee has helped with brainstorming, decision making, advice and support to the GF team. She has also volunteered hours on projects and has participated in GF events. Lydia provides a measured, thoughtful and empathic voice on the GF board. What makes Lydia unique? Working within a variety of arts related roles over the years (she’s currently Art Collections Curator at the University of Canterbury) has provided Lydia with an understanding of business acumen, event management, the importance of knowing/understanding your audience, collaboration and finding creative solutions on the fly. She’s also a Mum to a beautiful 1 year old.
Andrew Just is a passionate ideas man! He’s one of three Gap Filler co-founders. An architectural graduate (we suspect he’ll never get the time to get his registration), Andrew has been a driving force in Christchurch’s transitional movement. The CPIT-led ARTBOX project is one of Andrew’s innovative creations. Previously with F3 Design, Andrew is busy with FIELD, a new architectural practice he has co-created. He also is involved with Gap Filler’s consulting work outside of Christchurch. Andrew is a spear-fisherman, free diver, intrepid tramper, cross-country skier, amazing cocktail-creator/mixer amongst many other things.
Dr Ryan Reynolds is the Chair of the Gap Filler Trust, this means Ryan has the difficult task of reining in wild discussions (while injecting some of the whackiest ideas himself). As a consultant he travels widely, speaking to councils, universities and other organisations about adaptive urbanism. He has endless enthusiasm and ideas and has worked relentlessly since the conception of Gap Filler, donating hundreds and hundreds of hours to the initiative. He is also passionate about governance and long-term change.
As the name suggests, Hannah Airey is an uplifting figure in the Gap Filler family and brings enthusiasm to all tasks. She’s an all-round administrator, works the finance books, updates the website and bakes ridiculously delicious brownies.
When Hannah’s not filling gaps and facilitating laughter workshops (yes! really!) she’s juggling family commitments, ticking things off her bucket list and eating apples by the sea. Hannah’s life mantra is: “Do what you would be done by” and she realises that every day through her work with Gap Filler.
The elder statesman of our board, Martin Trusttum balances his senior status with a vibrant energy for things creative and urban. Martin started his working journey in music before switching to fashion, where he ran a business for fifteen years followed by teaching at CPIT. Teaching morphed into a project-oriented role, putting on events and facilitating relationships into and out of CPIT. Recently this included initiating the Arts Hub within CPIT and leading Artbox. Martin brings with him a great combination of organisational experience, creative direction, people skills and business understanding, joined with a quick laugh, warmth and a good hug.
Melissa Reimer is like the forbidden fruit: we were half-scared, half-desirous to invite her onto the board for her reputation as a ‘business-minded’ and killer saleswoman. She’s wicked smart, with a background (and PhD) in Art History, and brings an exciting-almost-neurotic energy to the board. She’s always entertaining, loves camping, is very happy when in Wanaka and hates having wet hands.
Avid cyclist, cinematographer and wharf jumping enthusiast, it seems there isn’t much Richard Sewell hasn’t turned his hand to… One of the younger members of our team, Rich is a Project Co-ordinator as well being the go to person for web/open-sourcing/teach support. He has worked with artists on projects such as Giraffing Around, Faux Arcadia and Concrete Propositions and on community building projects such as RAD (Recycle a Dunger) Bikes, and Gap Golf. Rich is great at working with people young and old alike and is the driving force behind our volunteer offerings and internship programme.
Rosaria Ferguson is the youngest member of the Gap Filler team and the only one with bright red hair. She first came on board as part of the Pallet Pavilion venue team across the Summer of 2013-14. Rosaria is a great events coordinator and knows her stuff. Whether it be as a sound tech, crowd control or health and safety, she’s on it. She’s also a quick learner and has been improving her technical skills of late. Rosaria is now The Commons’ site custodian and go-to-girl and knows how to make a mean pizza in the earthen pizza oven.
When Anita Parris isn’t smithing silver and spinning vinyl she’s Gap Filler’s The Commons Co-ordinator. Anita started her involvement with Gap Filler as a volunteer nearly 3 years ago. Her dedication and enthusiasm saw her step into the role of ‘Gap Chicken’ (the person who checks out the Gap Filler sites every day) and once some funding became available she became a valuable staff member.
A keen cyclist, you’ll often spot her eclectic frocks poking out from under her hi-vis vest as she flies around the city. She’s also a dab-hand at sign-writing, admin and web-site maintenance.
Anita’s a mum to two lovely boys and bakes a mean gluten-free biscuit.
Gap Filler’s Intern, Kaleena Houston, is studying political science and english at University of Canterbury. Her internship with Gap Filler is the result of a political science internship course. She is examining how the people of Christchurch relate to to public spaces. She will also be researching what people in other parts of the world have found out about people’s interaction with public spaces and is planning to question people as they pass through the Commons. Kaleena will also be observing how people use the space and noticing what they do and how they interact with each other. Kaleena enjoys travelling, and has lived in Germany, travelled in Europe and SE Asia. She enjoys getting a perspective from a different culture; how and where they find their happiness. She notices the lack of rush. She has a warm open manner and enjoys getting to know people and what motivates them. The Gap filler team pitched in with, ‘Kaleena is passionate, open and available as well unassuming and discreet. Her focused presence in the Common Room is enjoyed by all at Gap Filler.
Trent Hiles was the lead project coordinator at Gap Filler (from Nov 2011 – March 2015), rolling out and overseeing Gap Filler projects. He brings his eye as an artist, skills as a handy-man and endless energy as a human dynamo to the role. His unflappable creativity, baking prowess, energy, wisdom, good humour and constant supply of cold/old toasted sandwiches make Trent an integral part of the Gap Filler team.