Rebuilt by Lucinda Diack & Juliet Nicholas
Rebuilt showcases 19 homes that were damaged or destroyed by the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. It’s a personal second book for Diack, who was originally from Canterbury and returned to the region after the devastating 2011 earthquake to watch her city be rebuilt.
Diack’s first book, Converted Houses (2012), also dealt with people and their houses, and as a former writer of home and lifestyle magazines Diack is well versed in writing about homes and design.
Rebuilt is an attempt to showcase just how a select group of people went about rebuilding their homes and lives following the terrible Canterbury earthquakes. While Christchurch is still in the throws of recovery, each of the nineteen houses featured in this book have completed their renovations or rebuilds. This book is sitting firmly in the positive story camp, each of these houses occupants have come home and are happy in their new and altered abode.
While the stories of what happened to the houses differ, the general story is the same – the earthquake hit, shock and displacement followed, and after that a re-imagining of the house was required, a building process and then the homecoming. The problem with this is that, despite the homeowners all having differing stories, the overall story arc is the same. Each story, which would be touching and interesting as a one off in a magazine, for example, grouped together in Rebuild, they start to feel formulaic, and sadly, after reading 19 of, essentially, the same story over and over again, the impact is lost.
Juliet Nicholas’ photos, interspersed with residents own of the quake-damaged homes do attempt work admirably to tell the whole story, but due to space restrictions the photographs do sometimes feel crowded.
I wanted to enjoy Rebuilt, and I think it’s wonderful that out of such a tragedy new, innovative designs are rising out of the rubble, and that people are tangibly getting on with their lives. There were undoubtedly some interesting design solutions noted but unfortunately, the fact of each one of the nineteen pieces feeling too similar meant the book as a whole left me a little empty.
REVIEWER: Heidi North-Bailey
Rebuilt: Inspiring recovery stories from quake damaged Canterbury homes, by Lucinda Diack & photography by Juliet Nicholas