New science centre for Chch

DAMAGED: The Science Alive! building in Moorhouse Ave.
DAMAGED: The Science Alive! building in Moorhouse Ave.

A national science and innovation centre in Christchurch will become a showcase for Kiwi innovation, the trust behind the concept says.

Science Alive! has announced plans for the centre after confirming that its current home, the earthquake-hit former railway station in Moorhouse Ave, is beyond repair.

Science Alive! chief executive Neville Petrie said the 52-year-old building had been badly damaged by the city's quakes, and the cost of repairs increased with each shake.

''From the outside of the building it looks good except for the clock tower, but when you get inside there isn't a room that doesn't have some sort of cracking.''

He could not reveal the estimated cost of repairing the building, but the extent of the damage meant it was not an economical option.

''When you start adding up everything through the building, it was going to be way beyond the capabilities of the trust to do repairs.''

He said the trust had started planning a new science and innovation centre for the site as part of a major redevelopment.

Petrie said the centre could provide a scientific slant on important issues taking place around the world.

''With an issue like Fukushima [the Japanese nuclear disaster], when you have people talking about a meltdown, you can have an area where people can come and get up-to-date information on what's happening.''

The centre would also have an ''innovation gallery'', displaying the work of Christchurch and New Zealand companies and inventors, Petrie said.

''There's so much science and technology in New Zealand, but we're just not showing people what we can do,'' he said.

''People know about our No 8-wire ingenuity, but what we've got out there is beyond that - we're leading the world.''

He wanted the site to become the country's national science centre and encourage young people to take an interest in the subject.

"This is an opportunity for children to see role models in scientists and engineers and all those people who are involved in some way."

Concept plans for the site were still being developed, but Petrie hoped the centre would be open by November next year.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority had appointed a contractor for the demolition process, which would take three to four months.

The trust hoped to save heritage items and other valuable objects from the building before it was demolished, Petrie said.

Demolition has already started on the section of the building owned by Grand Ltd and occupied by Hoyts Cinema.

The Press