Paul Downton


Building neighbourhoods – we’re all citizens in a global civilization and what happens in Christchurch connects deeply with the global family. Nothing stands still and Christchurch is undergoing a crash course in disaster planning and recovery. What we’re doing through is the sort of thing that cities throughout the world are going to undergo over the next two or three decades – Christchurch’s experience will guide other cities in their own preparations for climate change reaction.

Architecture has always had an obsession with images – instead architecture should focus on life and connecting with the landscape. Building however serve many purposes – real estate, shelter, places of beauty, power and strength, safety and security, comfort, spirituality. But Downton believes it is even more fundamental than that.

We’ve been building for thousands of years now and we’ve slowly transformed the planet. The rate at which we’ve been changing things is incredible. When w build cities we can build them so that they trash the planet, or so that they are good for the planet, in-balance with nature. A regenerative force within its environment. Cities are ecosystems and we need to think of them as such.

There are however cultural constructs within which we need to consider cities – an urban fractal that defines, and is defined by, the urban whole. Small scale communities in a large scale world. The right amount of density and intensity to create a critical mass, to encourage “accidental meetings”. Put a city together, in pieces.