Christchurch Conversations: Ethan Kent

Thriving through placemaking: creating great places, strong economies and flourishing communities

“Human capital and creative talent increasingly goes where it likes; talent increasingly goes to great places; but talented people become most attached to places that they help create.” (Ethan Kent, Senior Vice President, Project for Public Spaces).

In this Christchurch Conversation, Ethan Kent expands our understanding of placemaking as a transformative way of improving cities. Through a broad focus on creating quality places, placemaking builds the shared value, community capacity, and cross-sector collaboration that is the bedrock of resilient cities and thriving communities.


Thursday 18 October 2018
6:00 – 7.30pm
The Piano, 156 Armagh Street



Great places and strong local economies are created in the same way: by getting people together to define local challenges and come up with appropriate solutions to address them. Placemaking makes tangible the opportunities inherent within a place so that they might be taken advantage of. Any organization can pave a plaza, but it’s not a place until people are using it. By bringing people together around a shared starting point to define and work toward shared goals, placemaking can play a critical role in strengthening local economies.

Ethan’s lecture will be followed by a panel discussion with Ethan Kent in conversation with local and national placemakers, including Frith Walker (Panuku), Ryan Reynolds (Gap Filler), Debbie Tikao (Matapopore) and Patrick Fontein (Studio D4).

The Christchurch Conversations Programme is presented by Christchurch City Council in partnership with Te Pūtahi – Christchurch centre for architecture and city-making. This event is presented in association with Panuku Development Auckland with support from Resene. We would like to also thank Ōtākaro Ltd for partnering to support Ethan’s visit to Christchurch.

CPD points available – NZILA (0.75), NZPI (Category 1, 2 points)


Ethan Kent | Senior Vice President | Project for Public Spaces (New York)

Ethan Kent works to support placemaking organizations, projects, and leadership around the world to build a global placemaking movement to build systemic change towards place-led urbanization. During over 20 years at PPS, Ethan has traveled to more than 900 cities and 60 countries to advance the cause of placemaking and public spaces. Ethan has been integral to the development of placemaking as a transformative approach to economic development, environmentalism, transportation planning, governance, resilience, equity and design.


Ryan Reynolds | Creative Placemaking Lead | Gap Filler

Dr Ryan Reynolds is a founding member and co-director of the Gap Filler Trust, working on Gap Filler’s local projects whilst doing worldwide work to help governments, not-for-profits and the private sector establish placemaking strategies and creative projects with positive community outcomes. He is also the founder of Life in Vacant Spaces creative brokerage service and a board member of Ohu Foundation, dedicated to exploring community-minded property development. He holds a PhD from Canterbury University, and has had teaching and research roles at Canterbury University, Lincoln University, University of Technology Sydney and Copenhagen University in Theatre and Film Studies, Environmental Management, Design, and Landscape Architecture.


Debbie Tikao | General Manager | Matapopore Charitable Trust

Debbie is a Landscape Architect with 20 years’ experience in ecological, commercial and public realm design and delivery and is currently a panelist on the Urban Design Panel for Christchurch City Council. For the past four years she has also held a voluntary position as the Environmental Portfolio Manager for Onuku Rūnanga. Within her role as the General Manager for the Matapopore Charitable Trust, her professional expertise, combined with project management experience brings a very considered, holistic approach to her work which ensures the day to day management of Matapopore as well as demonstrates how indigenous values and traditional knowledge can be expressed within the built environment.


Patrick Fontein | Director | StudioD4

Patrick has over 20 years of property development experience in the NZ market, with a predominant focus on Auckland.

Patrick is a Director and Shareholder of Studio D4, a property consulting and development management company, with colleague Paul Naylor. SD4’s core business is assisting corporate tenants or owner-occupiers with their commercial property requirements. Patrick and Paul are also Directors and Shareholders of a number of property investment and property development companies, throughout New Zealand.

Patrick has a BE (Civil, Auckland) and a MBA (London), majoring in Corporate Finance with 1st class distinction. Patrick was one of the youngest recipients of a Fellowship from the NZ Property Institute; was awarded the 2006 NZ Property Institute “Industry Award”, for vision and leadership in NZ property; was the Auckland President of the Property Council from 2002 to 2004; and the inaugural Chairman of the NZ Green Building Council from 2006 to 2008. The Kensington Group was awarded Property Council national excellence awards for it’s office and industrial developments, including the 2005 Rider Hunt Property Council Supreme Award, NZ’s top development Award, for Harbourside Business Park.

Whilst Auckland President of the Property Council, with the NZ Institute of Architects and Auckland City Council, Patrick initiated the setting up of the Auckland City Council Urban Design Panel in 2003. Patrick was part of the Auckland City Mayoral Urban Design Taskforce, which in 2004-2005 initiated the role of the design led city and led to the appointment of an Auckland City Urban Design team and Champion. Patrick was an initial Member of the Auckland

Urban Design Panel, and served on the Panel for 9 years, including many Panels as Chair. Patrick was the Property Council of NZ Urban Design Champion from 2005 to 2016.


Frith Walker | Manager, Place Making – Panuku Development Auckland

Originally hailing from theatre and events, Frith Walker joined the Waterfront Auckland team in 2011, as Placemaker for the Wynyard Quarter, with a specific focus on the programming and place management of the new public spaces on Auckland’s city centre waterfront.

Her appointment and the creation of a placemaking team came from an understanding that if we focused solely on the aesthetics of the physical setting we would miss a fundamental factor in planning a new, positive addition to the city – the people. You don’t make a show without thinking about the audience, after all.

As Manager, Place Making for Panuku her role now sees her working within the Design and Place Directorate on the creation of successful public space networks, supporting the programming and activation of our public spaces, and championing the difference a healthy public realm can make in terms of creating liveable cities.