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To establish a world-leading living laboratory in the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor in Ōtautahi Christchurch, where we learn, experiment and research; testing and creating new ideas and ways of living for a climate-challenged city and globe.

‘The Chichester’ prototype floating home designed by Baca Architects. Photograph: Mark Junak
Image by Regenerate Christchurch
Collier, K. J., Probert, P. K., & Jeffries, M. (2016). Conservation of aquatic invertebrates: concerns, challenges and conundrums. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 26(5), 817–837.  ‌
Image by Greening the Red Zone

1 Environmental 

To coordinate establishment of long-term (30 years+) monitoring of climatic change and evolving microclimates, sea level change and flood risk, and groundwater changes, with various measures of water quality and responses of invertebrate and vertebrate populations. The emphasis is on establishment of basic observation and recording, and the maintenance of continuous data sets.


2 Social 

To understand how a community responds to managed retreat and changing environmental conditions driven by sea level rise, particularly after thousands of households have been required to move away. Emerging patterns of social and environmental change as well as new opportunities for work and leisure provide insight into what managed retreat means in practice.


3 Cultural 

To maintain a record of changes to a landscape that is layered in memories and has been occupied for hundreds of years. There is opportunity for long-standing traditions of mahinga kai to be reclaimed in the river corridor and for evaluation of emerging practices of bi-cultural co-governance.


4 Experimentation and innovation

To provide low cost opportunities to trial different approaches to making use of blue-green spaces that are no longer suitable for residential living. In a spirit of experimentation, it enables innovative ways of making use of the land with new ideas and technologies, and initiatives from community, business and educational sources

5 Accessibility

To make accessible research and data which people, groups and institutions have undertaken in the corridor in the last decade and which has not been readily available in one place. To complement this with interviews with those who played key roles in the red zoning and regeneration planning processes, including documentation of the process of managed retreat itself.

6 Governance 

The Living Laboratory plays an important role in the storage of data, its maintenance, security and availability long-term. The trust is responsible for appropriate governance processes to achieve these ends.

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