Donnerstag, 4. Juli 2013

Introduction to the screening of The Wounded Brick in Christchurch, New Zealand on 25 May 2013

This is a part of the introduction, that was held by Sarah Borrée at our screening in Christchurch, New Zealand. We like the way, she looks at our film a lot and we want to share it with you:

The Wounded Brick

Although The Wounded Brick introduces us to people in L’Aquila and their personal situations, it is not a straightforward documentary that captures the effects of the earthquake on the city or follows the daily lives of its inhabitants. Instead, the filmmakers created what they themselves call a ‘cinematic essay’ – a collection of interviews with people from L’Aquila and the surrounding villages as well as professional urban planners, architects and sociologists. By doing so they look at the situation in L’Aquila in order to address much more general issues in regards to architecture and urban planning and although the questions they ask are particularly relevant for cities such as L’Aquila or Christchurch which are in need of reinventing themselves, the issues they raise are generally important to consider when it comes to the future of architecture and cities: What is home? What does housing mean? How do we want to live in the future and who is to decide how and where we live?

Cities are always changing – together with those who inhabit them. Usually these changes take place rather slowly. Quite often people do not even realize the effects for a long period of time. Yet, in a situation where a place changed dramatically in just an instant, the questions dealt with in the film become much more pressing and people become much more aware of their importance.

The great achievement of The Wounded Brick, in my opinion, is that it brings together the two different sides which are important for the future of cities and which are particularly important when a city is faced with a task as big and challenging as how to reinvent itself.

On the one hand, there are the inhabitants with their intimate knowledge of the places they occupy and use every day, and on the other professional planners and designers with their expertise and experience in creating living environments.

In The Wounded Brick those two sides are not played off against each other but complement one another. The experiences and feelings of the inhabitants of L’Aquila we hear about, their desires and expectation and also what they miss after losing their familiar environment is presented as being equally important as the thoughts and strategies of the professionals who explain how they approach their work.

After all, planners hardly ever deal with a blank page. Cities are living, growing and changing organisms comprising of places, buildings and first and foremost those who live in them. However, quite often what planners or authorities think will be good for the future of a city and what those living there expect does not seem to correspond. At the same time, it might be hard for the inhabitants of a city to embrace valuable and necessary changes instead of holding on to a situation or wanting to restore the city to what it was before a disaster. Also, seeing the bigger picture and thinking about the next decades to come and not just a few months or years ahead is a big challenge, even more so when the familiar surrounding has been destroyed or damaged. That is why, in my opinion, it ultimately needs both, professional expertise and the involvement of the community in order to create places people care about and where they want to spend their lives in.

Spending quite some time here in Christchurch I experienced the effects of losing so many buildings on the community and I followed how the authorities deal with the effects of the earthquake. Looking at the plan of how Christchurch is supposed to be rebuilt, I think the stories, thoughts and experiences told in The Wounded Brick are as relevant for Christchurch as they are for L’Aquila.

A city can only exist when people live in it and interact with it. In a city with a scattered fabric and areas that are inaccessible, it is important to give people options to keep connected to their city or they might lose their connection with and affection for a place. This in return can have a negative effect on the rebuilt and the future of the city. That is why groups like Gap Filler or projects like the Festival of Transitional Architecture are so important – they give people the opportunity to interact with the changing city, to re-experience it and to understand what is happening around them. I see cultural events that deal with architecture issues as a vital and integral part of the rebuild of Christchurch, and I hope this evening tonight makes another contribution to the discussion about the future of Christchurch.

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