Thursday, 29 March 2012

'Alice in Videoland' stands strong amidst the ruins ~ High Street, not so good...

The building which houses 'Alice in Videoland' is a triumph of engineering: built in the wake of the devastating Napier earthquake of 1931 it was designed with earthquake resilience in mind to the extent that it has been described as having been 'over-engineered'.  That it could withstand violent seismic events was proved in the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 in which it suffered no structural damage at all, whereas most of the surrounding commercial buildings have been either declared unsafe or completely demolished. 

That building stands on the corner of Tuam and High Streets.  This view of is from Saint Asaph Street, the view across the block made possible by the demolition of most other buildings.  From where I stood to take that photograph the backs of the ruined High Street shops were sadly visible:

You can see just how empty that block is from this photograph taken from near the corner of St Asaph and Manchester Streets:

The only other building which remains standing in that block is the infamous Buddle Findlay building which has never been occupied. This image was taken from Manchester Street:

This view of Alice's is from the corner of Manchester and Tuam Streets.  Now that the cordon has been lifted from that part of Tuam Street it has been able to reopen - which has been a happy event for fans of their specialist video collection!

 I went in to have a look:

 I admired the classy returns slot very much indeed!

Inside Alice's I could see that it was well stocked and well-to-do, and the atmosphere was up-beat.  Oh, very nice!  As a former librarian I am intensely aware of how other people's libraries look, feel and function, and this looked like one of the best.  I'm assured by users that it is!  I particularly liked their attitude in requesting that videos borrowed before the quakes be returned - and would incur no penalty.  That's a realistic and sensible stance as most people do return things if able to.  

News items about Alice's:
Back at the intersection of Tuam and Manchester Streets tiers of shipping containers protect passing traffic from the possible collapse of a building façade.  The ageing sign on the building just to the right carries the message:
"Protect your investment, Paint your property regularly and save now.  Polson's decorators and signwriters".  
Nice one, Polson's, if only it were that simple!  But perhaps it was then.  The sign has lasted so well; my guess is that it has outlived the company itself.  

Turning on my heel, perhaps 120 degrees, I looked back at the Tuam Street end of High Street.  The sloping reinforcement structure indicates the intention to save the building, but this is not a certainty:  other buildings which have been similarly braced have since suffered further damage, so only time will tell what is decided about this one:

The view below of High Street from the intersection of St Asaph and Madras Streets.  It did not look as if anything much had been done there so I was not surprised to see  graffiti expressing anger at lack of action.  The buildings at the left are the ones I photographed from behind in the second photo above.

In the next image if you looking along the façade the frontage of 'Cardmakers' can just be seen - how sad!  However, on checking their site just now I'm delighted to see that they are still operating - from their lounge at home!  'Cardmakers' has been a great little shop and wonderful to deal with over the years!

Other buildings in the area are at various stages of soundness or decline:  Real Groovy Records looks fine.  I don't know whether it is or not:

A lot of effort it being made to fix up this one in St Asaph Street:

Here it is from the other side:

These big three storey brick buildings just back from Manchester Street (on the western side between St Asaph and Tuam) are almost certainly doomed:

Outside the Polytechnic things seem much as usual.  My guess is that locals either like or loath this structure.  I really like it!  It stands next to the intersection of St Asaph and Madras Streets:

And just opposite this building looks just fine: 

This is what Christchurch people are living with day by day: the constant and decidedly jarring juxtaposition of good, bad and condemned structures, road diversions and places not being where they were any more.  Our memories of the places in which we've lived worked and played are losing their physical anchors, many of them already gone forever.  
So I'm glad that Alice's is back, and happy to see it so vibrant.  
Way to go, Alice's!

My other earthquake articles can be found via the link below:

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