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Creativity takes over Lower Hutt street with “Pop-up campus”

Design students on their Urban Camouflage course

Third year design students on location at Andrews Avenue for their Social Interventions Through Design course.

A group of students from the Wellington School of Design have turned a quiet Lower Hutt street into a creative and vibrant space, through their third-year design course.

In partnership with Hutt City Council, students have taken over an empty shop front in Andrews Avenue and activated the space and Centre City Plaza with their “Living Lab: A Pop-up Campus”.  

The summer school course explores places and spaces within cities to re-imagine them to better connect with and engage the public. Students will spend the summer making the space at Andrews Avenue, which is closed to traffic until March, more functional and fun for people to use.

Senior lecturer Euan Robertson says the course was being held at the location to give students the opportunity to better connect with the council, local businesses and communities and, “learn how they felt about the street and how we could reconfigure it.”

“Through this process, the students have got hands-on experience with a real project and consulted with many stakeholders in coming up with concepts for implementation on the street, and to create ideas/spaces for local groups and communities to use the space in 2020.

“Because the brief involves a specific space the students have been applied their broad design thinking skills to reimagine the area. We expect them to push themselves past what they think they can achieve, and the ’new’ working environment is an experiment to see what this produces. I am very excited about what they will achieve with the course this year.”

Hutt City Council’s central business district development manager Cyndi Christensen says the opportunity to work with students at Massey’s Wellington School of Design is exciting and one that is supported by the Southend Business Group – a group of businesses located at the south-end of High Street in Lower Hutt.

“The project has business support from the Southend Business Group and the wider business community, and we’re working to check in with business owners to explain the project. So far everyone has been incredibly supportive. As the project rolls out we’ll continue to involve businesses.

“The success of the project will be in raising the profile of this area of the Southend of High Street, its connection to the community and the city,” she says.