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Christchurch pop-up container mall may stay on


Is Christchurch’s Re:Start mall still a pop up ?

One of the smartest use of shipping containers for pop up shopping (in our region) has been the Re:Start mall in Christchurch, New Zealand – installed in late 2011 following a series of devastating earthquakes. The massive ‘quake on 22nd February 2011 damaged around 80% of the city-centre and led to significant re-development projects… although many of the new buildings are yet to be complete. In the meantime, brightly-painted containers have offered a temporary solution for retailers (and shoppers) displaced by the earthquakes…  the successful Re:Start mall has become something of an institution for locals and certainly a tourist destination (Christchurch was nominated #6 on Lonely Planet’s Top10 Cities for 2013).

Wikipedia recalls some controversy when the Re:Start organisers claimed to be the world’s first pop up mall – arranging 60 shipping containers (in 2 giant horseshoes around central cafes) into 27 individual retail shops. According to ‘Wiki, other container malls had appeared earlier in Kyrgyzstan and Mexico (ahead of New Zealand) – and London’s Boxpark development also disputed the claim, threatening legal action.

We first mentioned the mall in July 2012 (containers and trucks, plastic and cardboard) – observing that some retailers had begun moving back into permanent structures… But it seems the mall has grown over the past few years… most probably because the precinct has proved so popular (and relatively in-expensive for the retailers). Initially 27 shops opened in containers – the Re:Start website now boasts “well over 50 businesses… in addition there are market stalls, street performers and buskers”. In 2014 parts of the original mall were relocated to make way for permanent structures.

More recently, controversy has returned – reported one Re:Start tenant complaining of high rents and the city centre taking “too long” (to revive, following the earthquakes). Last week it was also mentioned the mall might become a long-term fixture – Re:Start mall in Christchurch may stay another 10 years ( again)… and some businesses are not keen. One property developer said he “did not expect to have to compete with Re:Start for tenants. The whole idea was for the Re:Start to maintain the city central as a retail area on a temporary basis. That was the basis for my decisions and for a lot of other people’s decision making…”

I thought it’s interesting that the Re:Start website doesn’t actually use the term “pop up” – but many of the on-line media articles certainly do. So when does a pop-up container park become something else ? (ie. not a pop up…) Is 4 years enough already… is 10 years too long ?


sources : Re:Start, Wikipedia,


Re Start Christchurch 1       Re Start Christchurch       Re Start Christchurch 2

images : Google Images – Re Start Christchurch


One comment to "Christchurch pop-up container mall may stay on"

  1. Glenys Tideman 28/04/2015

    I would be stoked if the decision was to retain the container malls in Christchurch, my home town. It shows the ingenuity, tenacity, and creativity of Cantabrians to champion in the face of such trials as the earthquakes presented. It gave the community a sense of continuity and forbearance against adversity. They would be an historical reference to one of the most challenging times Christchurch has had to face, and a more apt memorial than rebuilding the cathedral, which in its demise is its own historical reference to such a substantial event.


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