In 2009, Danish urban designer Jan Gehl undertook a study of central Christchurch called "Public Space, Public Life".

The study focused on the area bounded by Kilmore Street, St Asaph Street, Rolleston Avenue and Madras Street. It considered:

  • how people used Christchurch’s central-city spaces 
  • the quality of these public spaces
  • how these could better support public life and create a better sense of community.

Becoming a truly vibrant and liveable city

Gehl Architects found Christchurch had great potential to “become a truly vibrant and liveable city”. They made a number of recommendations to create a central city where the needs of people were put first.

The study suggested Christchurch should create:

  • a central city where pedestrians, cyclists and public transport were given priority 
  • strong links between amenities 
  • a stronger identity for the city
  • public places that were good for living, working and playing, for all age groups.

Gehl Architects’ vision for Christchurch

  • a city with a strong heart
  • a city centre with human pace
  • a garden city that celebrates its amenities
  • a city with a wide range of people and activities
  • a city with attractive and inviting public spaces.

Further information

Gehl Architects: "Public Space, Public Life":

A City for People - Action Plan

A City for People is the action plan for the implementation of the Public Space Public Life Study undertaken in 2009 by Danish urban designers Gehl Architects.

A 12-year programme of activities to be undertaken by Council to create a Central City which is vibrant, safe, attractive and where people want to spend their time. This action plan was developed following the completion of a Public Space Public Life survey in Christchurch by Gehl Architects. The intention was to link the actions to three-yearly reviews of the Council's Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP).

Of the 66 projects, almost half were at that time already funded in the 2009-19 LTCCP, 25 were new and the remainder needed to be realigned with work already being done by Council. Some projects required further investigation including identifying options, evaluating users and benefits and public consultation.

The Public Space Public Life survey and the City for People Action Plan both informed central city recovery planning after the earthquakes, providing valuable data and information with many actions remaining relevant to achieve a vibrant and prosperous central city.

A City for People Action Plan [PDF, 4.4 MB].