RISE: The Canterbury Earthquakes Memorial

The earthquake memorial, RISE, is a fissured mass that levitates

To commemorate the loss and trauma of the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010, we envisioned a permanent memorial that delicately balances private reflection and shared human experiences. It is a quiet focal point for public gatherings, a place for each of us to honor and remember lives lost and affected. But it is also a place to contemplate and recognize the remarkable strength and resilience of this devastated community. Hence, a single clarifying verb inspired this proposal: RISE.

The design gathers around a large, ruptured monolith that levitates above the surface of the Ōtākaro/Avon River. Supported by concealed electromagnets that are smaller than those used by trains, this seemingly weightless mass features a bright fissure that becomes more vivid when illuminated at night. Evoking sublime wonder, the design provides and encourages numerous interpretations.

Yeadon Space Agency re-contoured the riverbank for gatherings at RISE

The setting for this memorial is designed to complement the Developed Design for Montreal Street to Durham Street, which was previously proposed by others. The parkland area to the north is designed to accommodate larger crowds. South of the river, we have contoured the riverbank so that a terraced landscape emerges from the planned path that will be made possible by modifying the width of Oxford Terrace.

Maglev technology enables the cracked monolith to be raised/lowered, to remain above water level

Project Features

Xeriscaping with native plants

  • Akeake
  • Kawakawa
  • Dracophyllum
  • Metrosideros bartlettii
  • Cabbage tree
  • New Zealand fuchsia
  • Kōwhai
  • Soft tree fern
  • Pseudowintera
  • Clianthus
  • Karaka
  • Hoheria/Houhere
  • Māhoe/Whiteywood
  • Olearia
  • Rangiora
  • Whau
  • Silver fern
  • Toetoe
  • Poaceae
  • Plants loved by those lost


  • Impervious paving
  • Swales for stormwater
  • Terraced seating controls surface runoff at river
  • Durable stone seat edging
  • Technical systems room beneath terraced area

Memorial Monolith

  • Maglev suspension
  • Adjustable height
  • Sustainable power source
  • Emergency generator
  • Bright, luminous quantum dot fissure
  • Luminous bottom surface of quantum dots
  • Stone veneer exterior
  • Hollow core framing
  • Possible to engrave stone
  • Discourages vandalism
  • A new relationship with the ground, the Earth
  • Unprecedented