Friday, February 20, 2015

Vacant Lot Use: Gap Filler

February 17, 2015
Hannah Kirk, Maggie Peale, Grant Blanton
“Gap Filler aims to temporarily activate vacant sites within Christchurch with creative projects to make for more interesting dynamic and vibrant city.”

As we began our search for successful ways to reconstruct vacant lots, we came across an organization called Gap Filler and the work they have done within Christchurch, New Zealand. The strategy of this organization was to build community awareness and overall attitude towards the vacant lots by turning them into temporary dance floors. In order to make this happen, Gap Filler selects certain vacant lots throughout the community and lay down temporary dance floors for the public to utilize. In order to work the dance floors you have to insert a coin into the available machines and then it allows you to plug in whatever music people prefer. This not only draws attention to the vacant lots, but allows for public performances and positive energy amongst the people. The dance floors not only serve to rebuild the community but also give a kick start to the lots by drawing attention to it. This allows people to want to be involved by contributing to more and ultimately paving the way to revitalization without payment. By being temporary, the dance floors do not cause long term damage and erosion to the soil or land itself. The money raised by the dance floor can be donated to the city, or used by the company themselves, to clean up the vacant lots and replace it with a variety of more permanent structures such as playgrounds and gardens.

By creating these temporary dance floors the vacant lots changed the atmosphere in the community as well as the motivation, which these organizations said is the first step to success is renewing vacant lots. The goal of this strategy was strictly to unite the community and bring awareness to the land and show all of the potential it has by ringing life and energy to the land.


The two figures above show the differences between the runoff levels of hard surfaces and fresh land. There is 45% more runoff in the city, where there are hard surfaces. In relation to the temporary dance floors in New Zealand, it is better to create a temporary solution instead of a permanent hard surface because it conserves rain water and produces less runoff.

When it comes to costs and the coordination of this program, it is generally less expensive than other activities because the main purchase is the dance floor which is completely made from recycled material. Gap Filler also receives grants as well as financial support from local community organizations such as art councils and is operated mainly by a volunteer based staff. By using the volunteer force you can gather people who are directly interested in the use of the lots and improvement of the community. One option could always be to make an abroad option for Wittenberg students to travel to areas such as New Zealand and participate in such activities. Another option could be for Wittenberg students to team up with local Springfield Elementary schools and work something like this up in our own community to host an event and bring awareness to the vacant lot. This gives us the opportunity to raise money from the coins collected from participants and then be able to move forward to preserve the soil in the lot or build upon it with things such as community gardens or playgrounds.

Below, the two figures relate to our topic by showing other lots and locations of the dance floors and also the large numbers of the land that has the potential to be used.

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