The renewal of Christchurch, New Zealand after a devastating earthquake just took a huge leap with the opening of a pedestrian shopping mall made from shipping containers. The brightly colored stacked boxes hold 27 stores as part of the City Mall Re:START project. Thousands of visitors flocked to the temporary mall’s opening the first weekend to enjoy the café, the large pedestrian area and two horse-shoe shaped pavilions. The mall offers a bit of normalcy to the residents, and some serious contemporary eco-style. The project is one of many shipping container designs we have seen, but this particular design has come under fire by another group for breach of intellectual property rights. The group is currently using every means to either get a licensing agreement or shut it down.

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Christchurch has lost a lot of it infrastructure, in addition to 166 lives lost in the February 22nd earthquake. The town was looking for novel designs to help the city bounce back, similar to that of Shigura Ban’s Cardboard Cathedral. The shipping container mall is one of the most striking features of the cities renewal. Most of the stores are locally owned and have been a part of the community for years. The development took only months to put together, but still has a level of thoughtful design, as well as bright open spaces with interesting gathering areas to linger on a warm spring weekend. The Mall is expected to stay intact for a least a year until the downtown pedestrian mall areas can be restored.

As reported on Treehugger the developers of the London based Boxpark Mall are not too happy about this “pop–up” mall and feel that their idea has been stolen. They are seeking a legal action for the “blatant breach of the Boxpark intellectual property rights.”

Its hard not to think that the Boxpark developer who is touting the “world’s first pop up mall” is barking up the wrong tree. We have seen many retail spaces in shipping containers, like the Puma City Store, the Brooklyn Shipping Container Market, and this Sao Paulo Furniture store, to name just a few. To make a stink about a community who went through such a tragedy seems foolish and does not serve the architecture and development profession well.


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