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understorey by The Green Lab


20-26 Welles Street, Christchurch


Official Website

The Green Lab creates urban green spaces that support strong social connections and promote wellbeing in Ōtautahi Christchurch. Our green spaces enable community building and connect people with nature in the urban environment.

We put community, wellbeing and environmental sustainability before profit. We see our focus and impact in the context of the Living Standards Framework.

For us, design is a social process of co-creation and capacity building. Where possible we take a participatory approach that involves end-users in the design and construction of the space.

Greening the Rubble emerged after the 2010 Canterbury earthquakes to green rubble sites with temporary landscaping and planting projects to bring people back into the city and contribute to its rejuvenation. Initially a volunteer-driven, grassroots organisation, we became a Registered Charitable Trust in 2013. The Christchurch City Council came on board early to support the organisation with funding.

While we still do inner-city greening projects the nature of our work changed with the city’s evolving needs. We started to create green spaces for residential regenerating communities, with a focus on working with communities to co-create spaces that support strong connections and wellbeing. By including end-users in the creation of the space, we enable capacity building and skill development. Recent examples are Kotahitanga, a gathering space created with the Phillipstown community, and Linwood Tiny Shops, a collaboration with Te Whare Roimata and the Christchurch City Council to create a micro-village of tiny shops and a garden for community use.

In 2019 we rebranded as The Green Lab. As Christchurch evolves beyond an immediate post-earthquake reality, so are we. While our name has changed, our focus remains the same: to create urban green spaces that support strong social connections and wellbeing. We will continue to work with communities to create urban green spaces but you will also see us provide indoor greening products and services for organisations and deliver workshops from our moveable workspace The Green Lab.

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