Cultivating a creative ecology

XCHC (Exchange Christchurch) is a for purpose business set up to benefit the community by providing a place for creative practitioners to develop their practice, share ideas and knowledge, and connect with other creative practitioners. It was established in the post earthquake context as a response to the loss of space to develop and showcase creative work, but also in recognition of the creative explosion that happened post earthquake and the intention to foster its growth by providing a place for people to come together to develop their ideas.

XCHC provides four unique yet connected areas: makerspace, showcase space, accommodation, and the cafe/bar. Their close proximity enables the casual exchange of knowledge between the creative disciplines. Additionally, by providing a place for creative practitioners to meet one another it lends to building a community of interest around the creative industries. The three areas of focus are:



XCHC Makerspace is for the production of two and three dimensional creative works, and is a space where practitioners make, experiment and test ideas. Because of the open floor plan there is an opportunity to sharing knowledge with one another as well as pursue collaborative works.  Residents of the makerspace come from a wide variety of disciplines as well as bring with them varying levels of experience. This diversity enriches the exchange of knowledge.



XCHC Showcase Space is a multi-purpose venue to host workshops, performances, film screenings, launches, presentations, exhibitions, etc. Each event is curated by a host and provides an opportunity for creative practitioners to share their work with a wider audience.



Pedro’s Cafe is a hybrid between café/workspace and bar/showcase space, and brings people together to casually share ideas and meet like minded creative individuals. The communal seating extends into the XCHC Showcase Space and blurs where creative practice starts and the public enters.



  • Demonstrating leadership in enabling creative enterprise by developing a self sustaining cultural enterprise model to underpin and assure the longer-term evolutionary development of XCHC

  • Releasing the potential for creative enterprise by enabling and supporting creative individuals and groups to share knowledge, experiment and test ideas and develop commercially viable creative practices.

  • Creating opportunities for people interested in creative enterprise to exchange and share knowledge in order to further their creative practices and increase public awareness of the potential for creative communities to enable positive change.



The vision of XCHC is to form a creative ecology that empowers the creative community to develop successful enterprises that in turn positively impact individual's economic stability and quality of life.

There are four types of people that participate in this creative ecology:

  • Creative practitioners who come to XCHC to work and develop their creative enterprises.

  • Groups or individuals that host creative events at XCHC.

  • Guests who come to visit and experience creative works at XCHC.

  • The public who at a more subconscious level are affected by the collective growth of the creative community.  

The social benefits of providing a space that nurtures a creative ecology include: increased quality of life, increased sense of empowerment, increased sense of opportunity, and increased economic independence. These social benefits transcend across the four types of people and are diverse and multi-faceted.

Developing a culture where people can invest in their their own niche businesses increases the economic diversity of a city which makes for a more resilient future economy. This is made possible by providing a culture where creative practitioners can develop the skills they need to create successful businesses through leveraging both the network of XCHC residents and the expertise of the wider XCHC team.

Providing a place that connects the creative community breeds a sense of opportunity and possibility, which makes for an exciting and desirable place to live, and in turn attracts both new people who want to be apart of the creative culture as well as inspires those in the community to develop their creative practices further


BERLIN - The concept of XCHC was conceived by Uwe Rieger who started similar projects in Berlin in the early 90’s in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Rieger was a young architectural graduate in the burgeoning creative vacuum that exploded and defined Berlin as the epicenter of the avant-guard of Europe.

The first iteration of XCHC was called Praxis Dr McCoy, and operated between 1991-1994, it went on to become one of Berlin`s famous Techno Clubs and was a testing ground for experimental art and architecture.

Later Rieger co-founded Kunst und Technik e.V., an interdisciplinary exchange for designers, artists, technicians and architects, and became internationally known for experimental projects, events and exhibitions. Kunst und Technik Bar Nights were legendary in the Berlin`s avant-guard scene, the project ran from 1996- 2001.

AUCKLAND - Rieger took the concept to Auckland and was one of the directors of shed^10 (2009-2011). The project was one of the early incubators for what has now become a successful repurposed warehouse known as The City Depot Works.

CHRISTCHURCH - The post earthquake creative explosion in Christchurch, while very different from that of Berlin in the 90’s, has one thing in common, and that is it is a pivotal time in history for the city. 

If we look around we see not only creative ideas taking shape, but also a growing desire to participate in and support the creative industries, for it is recognised that it is upon their success that a vibrant and exciting city exists. 

We credit Gap Filler, Free Range Press, Ministry of Awesome, Life in Vacant Spaces, The Social and FESTA for pioneering innovative and place based creative works that inspire others to rise to the occasion of rebuilding the city while taking a stand for their ideals and purpose.  It is in the context of these amazing projects that XCHC has come to life.


XO | Exchange Operator


Preston Hegel
Operations | Future Development | Friendly af.

Behind the scenes


Camia Young
Founder / Director

Matthew Biddick
Advisory Board / Treasurer

Cafe | Front of house


Pedro Johnston
Manager | Barista | Chef

Noemie Jullien
Sous Chef | Awesome



Previous team members have left a lasting impression and XCHC is forever grateful for their time and contribution.


Camila Nieulands
Assistant Chef


Brie Sherow
Bar Manager

Jon Jeet
Advisory Board
Residents Artist

Agnieszka Parr
Advisory Board
Media & Communications

Holly Chappell-Eason
Advisory Board
Events Artist


Aliesha Mcgilligan
Chef & Cafe Director
09.2015 - 07.2017

Kerry Mulligan
Advisory Board

Tony Chamberlain
Trustee - Chair
09.2015 - 10.2016

Jess MacDonald
Director - Residents
05.2016- 08.2016

Marcia Butterfiled
Director - Media & Comms
10.2015- 08.2016

Gerald Carter
05.2014 - 01.2016


Uwe Rieger
06.2013 - 02.2016


Gaby Montejo
05.2014 - 09.2015


Netta Egoz
05.2014 - 04.2015  


Jaya Gibson
Operations Director
04.2015 - 07.2015 

Nic Hetherington
Event Manager
08.2014 - 02.2015




Harry Knight
XCHC Operator
08.2014 - 03.2015


The XCHC would not be possible without a range of supporters. If you or your organisation believes in the value the creative industries bring to society and would like to support this start up space, we are always looking for partners, please contact us at 

We wholeheartedly thank our funding supporters:

And all those who have provided us with in kind support:
Duncan Cotterill: Legal Advice
Ed Post & Associates: Accounting services
Gap Filler: Donated electrical hardware from the Pallet Pavilion
Mactodd Lawyers: Legal Advice
Peanut Productions: Photographs courtesy of Erica Austin
PlatformE Marketing Limited: Marketing advice courtesy of Kate Eagle