Christchurch to get 3D models of delayed earthquake projects

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority plans to model new city facilities and precincts using 3D printing.

Plans to print 3D models of Christchurch's new CBD are unlikely to ease frustrations over a much-delayed rebuild, but at least citizens will be able to see what's coming.

The government last week announced delays of up to three years on key projects such as the Metro Sports Facility and the Convention Centre, but the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) is steaming ahead with plans to print 3D models of the future city.

A concept image shows the future Convention Centre precinct. (Image: CCDU)

CERA has gone to market for a 3D-printing supplier to fabricate models of the key facilities and the green areas around them.

"The design concept for the Recovery Plan is the development of a greener, more accessible city, with a compact core and a stronger built identity," a tender document explains.

A blueprint within the Recovery Plan sets out the precincts and projects that were supposed to "catalyse investment, growth, and social energy" after it was laid low by a series of earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

"The visual perspective of a building or built precinct that can be achieved with a physical model is a unique experience, and when combined with its physical presence creates a tangible experience for the viewer," the tender says.

"In this context, a physical model will assist the general public to observe, understand, measure, and engage with Anchor Projects, as well as providing a point of interest and opportunity to gain knowledge for visitors."

A physical model will also inform the activities of developers and investors, and provide a tool for planners, urban designers, and architects.

"Over time, a model will also contribute to a visual record of the recovery of Christchurch Central City," the document says.

The rebuild was supposed to be a model of its kind. However, last week, Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce boss Peter Townsend told Stuff that progress has been "disappointingly slow", and is causing uncertainty for business and investors.

"People need to plan ahead. We keep getting these delays, and this causes uncertainty about when it will actually happen," he said.

The tender notes that due to a 500:1 scale, some parts of the planned model may have to be completed using traditional modelling methods.