Type of project: Design-driven project
Sponsors/Funders: Christchurch City Council, Briford Trailers, HireKing, Daveron Scaffolding, Loscam, Hynds and The Pumphouse, Christchurch City Council, Hyalite, Life in Vacant Spaces, Rātā Foundation, Trees for Canterbury.

Concept: Sarah Mankelow
Location: 221 Manchester St
Completed: June 2016.
Status: Decomissioned

The Tree Museum  project drew inspiration from Joni Mitchell’s song “Big Yellow Taxi” and displayed nine notable trees that formed part of the original ecosystems of central Christchurch. The project aimed to highlight the loss of these ecosystems and provide central city businesses and residents options to consider when planting as part of the future development of Christchurch. 

The parklet created a place for people to cherish trees that are rarely seen in the city. The trees were arranged in planter boxes in a rectangle. Red boundary rope strung between the planters demarcated the museum space, with seating in the centre. The space was accessed by a single gateway, and accompanied by signage that described each species and asked if the trees had a future in the city. 

Following the 2010-2011 earthquakes residents in Christchurch were asked what kind of city they wanted and the top response was “a green city.”  As the rebuild progressed, many vacant sites were turned into car parks. The Tree Museum aimed to offer visitors the chance to imagine what kind of city we would be if we took the opportunity to green more spaces,  either temporarily or perhaps even in more permanent ways.

These are the lyrics that gave us inspiration for this project:

“They took all the trees
Put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
’til it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot”

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