Pretty much all the answers in the world are to be found at C4 Coffee most weekday mornings from 8am. At that time, a group of decidedly white, decidedly middle-aged and decidedly male individuals meats to imbibe coffee and to talk about the problems of the world. Indeed, in the future they will discuss, at length, the wisdom that emanated from that fair establishment and the fact that so much societal progress could have been made if only those guys were in charge.

Being Christchurch based, it’s fair to say this crew has some strong opinions about the garden city and, given the fact that most of them have resided there for decades, there is a recurring theme of earthquake recovery in their deliberations.

Recently one of that number, who we will call Gary Kuan Yew, was opining about the issues with our city generally and, more specifically, the missed opportunity that occurred in the days, weeks, months and years post the earthquake. This kicked of a fairly intense discussion after which The Sages of C4, as we will call them, decided upon the masterplan.

Of course, they didn’t produce this masterplan in a vacuum. They had excellent examples of city and state central planning from which to cherry pick the best approaches. Most specifically, the incredible rise of countries such as Singapore with its abhorrence of litter and spitting or, more recently, the United Arab Emirates with its superstructures and highways.

And so, The Sages cast themselves back to February 22nd, 2011. At that time, in the parallel universe run by The Sages, Gary Kuan Yew put in an emergency phone call to the United States Air Force and invited them to begin an exercise over Christchurch city in the early hours of February 24th. That exercise would include low-level strafing practice, as well as the targeted dropping of high-impact bombs. The intended result of this invitation was that, at no cost, the residents of our fair isles would have received an absolute blank canvas upon which to build their future. No controlled demotion, no decade-long argument about rebuilding Cathedrals, ballooning and blowing out of budgets. Instead a nice flat platform on which to construct the futre.

Not satisfied with simply creating the canvas, Kuan Yew got his old mate Ian Athfield involved. Ath, as he was affectionally known, was frothing at the opportunity to create a masterplan for the city, the way that had happened 150 years previously when the fathers of the city decided an expansive garden, and a town laid out in a grid pattern was wise. Ath came up with his plan in the space of the week, before the dust had settled from the USAF strafing.

Not one to bother with sleep, Gary Kuan Yew jumped on a plane and headed to New York, London, Dubai and Singapore, where he made deals with bankers and financiers, entrepreneurs and creatives. He wined the world’s best architects and sold them on the idea of being able to build beautiful and creative building but under the masterplan that Ath was delivering. And what architect worth their salt wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to create creative and distinct buildings, but without the risk of having them clash horribly with their neighbours?

Ten years later, Gary Kuan Yew sat back and admired what he had enabled from his penthouse apartment. He surveyed a beautiful vista with incredible buildings, wide-open green spaces and high amenity values.

Of course, all of this is fictional and The Sages can only bemoan what could have been. Instead of that utopian paradise, we have a Cathedral which is slowly falling down and needs hundreds of millions of dollars to fix. We have a swimming pool that is slowly sinking into the ground and we still have horrendous commutes for individuals who were forced out to the nether regions of our area to find somewhere to build homes.

The Sages are philosophical chaps, but even they get a little downcast sometimes. They have no option but to bury their heads in their second coffees of the day and bemoan what could have been.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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