Brittany Smith Beyond The River's Edge

  • Tauira / Student
    Brittany Smith
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Jen Archer-Martin, Sven Mehzoud

The river’s edge: a living system in itself. We see this as the intersection between land and water, the boundary between the wet and dry. But there is so much more to the river than we can see. Our waterways are the life source of our land and below the surface lies a myriad of micro habitats and ecosystems, all reliant on health of the water itself for their own survival.

In the Eastern Reaches of Christchurch’s Otakaro/Avon River lies a stagnant wasteland, a former wetland-turned suburb now deemed too swampy to rebuild. The river flows contaminated by heavy-metal-laden stormwater runoff from the urban catchment.

‘Beyond The River’s Edge’ is a constructed wetland that uses water filtration, habitat formation and observation spaces to ensure the continued health of Christchurch’s Otakaro/Avon River.

Otakaro/Avon River currently flows polluted and unhealthy due to the increase in heavy metal runoff through the existing stormwater network, sitting stagnant in a past residential space.

This is runoff from surrounding roofing, roads and car tyres. Post earthquake, due to the destruction of residential infrastructure, the site currently lies vacant and overgrown. Only now vegetation is starting to grow back, through cracks in the damaged roads and paths.

This space, although not deemed fit for residential or business rebuilding, provides an opportunity for an ecological restoration, allowing for a human/non-human coexistence within Christchurch’s East Side.

This wetland restoration proposal employs Water Sensitive Design strategies to revitalise the interconnected health of the wetland, river and catchment. Boardwalks and platforms guide people along planted, pleated and woven edges, facilitating kaitiakitanga beyond the river’s edge.