Science buildings for internet age

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 17:26 26/11/2013
Paul Fleming
JOHN KIRK ANDERSON/ Fairfax NZ

BRIGHT IDEAS: Science vice-chancellor Professor Paul Fleming believes the design of Canterbury University's new science buildings will help foster ideas among students.

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The internet did not yet exist when the current science blocks at Canterbury University were built.

And that is why there is so much excitement within university management that the design plans for the university's new $212 million science hub are complete.

''It's actually really hard to get internet access through concrete blocks,'' Vice-chancellor Rod Carr said at a briefing about the plans yesterday.

The Regional Science and Innovation Centre is the largest project to be conducted using the $260m injection the Government recently announced to support the university's post-quake rebuild.

Asbestos had already been removed in preparation, and construction would begin in late 2014. Four science buildings built about 50 to 60 years ago would eventually be torn down.

Science vice-chancellor Professor Paul Fleming, said two buildings linked by a covered atrium would house biological sciences, chemistry, geography, geological sciences, physics and astronomy. It was hoped the first building would be occupied by the start of 2017.

Being in close proximity would encourage academics from each discipline to ''have coffee together and spark ideas off each other,'' he said.

State-of-the-art audio-visual and laboratory equipment, online learning, and modern teaching methods within cleverly designed buildings would mean university science was no longer alien to incoming secondary students.

The intention was to have more than 1000 secondary pupils attend workshops in the centre's laboratories and informal learning spaces each year.

Current facilities did not meet the health and safety standards enough to allow high schools students to conduct hands-on science.

''It is a building of its time. We now think we can get something much better.''

College of Education training science and technology educators would also have a base in the centre.

The plans would also involve making the Okeover Stream more of a feature, after years spent covered up and hidden between buildings.

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