Old meets new in creative hub

    SIT’s head of faculty new media, arts and business Hamish Small is proud of the new Centre of Creative Industries. The new building, which incorporates St John’s Anglican Church, will be a teaching space for the film, animation, game design, fashion and music programmes.

    THE past and future of Invercargill’s architecture converges in the Southern Institute of Technology’s newest building — a hub of digital and creative arts in Southland.

    The SIT’s $18million Centre of Creative Industries was built ‘‘in and around’’ the old St John’s Anglican Church and will be officially opened next month, when it will welcome
    students from film, animation, game design, fashion and music programmes.

    SIT’s head of faculty, new media, arts and business Hamish Small was excited with the new premises.

    While often historical churches were knocked down to make space for new developments, SIT had managed to keep the anglican church almost intact, he said.

    The only change to the space was the addition of columns to reinforce the structure against earthquakes, and the placement of two pod-classes.

    ‘‘What we built is the last contemporary purpose building facility in the country and we are very proud of it. The beauty of it is that we are going from brand new to 140-year-old
    history in the same space.

    ‘‘We took a student group through the building and they were blown away. They are pretty excited to get in.’’

    The cutting-edge technology installed in the historical space highlighted the institution’s focus on the significant growth in the screen industries, Mr Small said.

    On the first floor, the atrium — the heart of the building — highlighted the concept of old and new side by side.

    The church’s stained glass windows merged with digital screens which would be used to display students’ projects.

    The complex also contained six soundproof studios, DJ booths and an auditorium for students to practise, rehearse and make all the noise necessary to help them achieve their
    goals and projects.

    Next to these, a multipurpose room would house a green screen and sound stage — and it was already sparking the interest of people from the movie industry.

    ‘‘We had people from industry making inquiries because there is a studio shortage around the country at the moment.

    ‘‘That allows students to work in a real-world environment. It is a win-win, really.’’

    The second floor and third floor of the building were filled with modern classrooms with computers and HyFlex technology — a new delivery mode to increase learning options for

    Students from those courses would have three options of learning — in their own time, remote, real-time or on-campus, Mr Small said.

    The beauty of HyFlex learning was that it allowed students to base their learning around their schedule and needs, without being disadvantaged accessing course material and
    requirements, he said.

    The centre would also serve the wider community, Mr Small said.

    The church had been transformed into an open-plan area to host events and concerts, and also housed a cafe.

    The space would be a creative hub for the faculty and students, as well as the wider public, Mr Small said.

    He believed the numbers of enrolments for those courses could increase by 20%.

    ‘‘We always came up with innovative ideas to keep a step ahead of other institutions.

    ‘‘We are very happy with what we achieved — we just want to our students feel proud of it.’’