We love highlighting positive things happening in our local community. They don’t come much better than the initiative under way to transform the former Takapuna RSA building in Mary Poynton Crescent – just a stones-throw from Smales Farm – into a youth innovation hub.
The project started out under the working title ‘two floors of amazing’ when it was just an idea and has now morphed into the permanent name ‘Shore Junction’. In short, the building is going to become an innovation hub for youngsters in the region. The Junction will be a centre for technology; enterprise; science, engineering, maths; community; arts and culture.
The neat thing is it is a project for our youngsters that is being driven by youngsters. They are playing the leading hand in the design process on a basis called ‘Co-design’. Co-design builds on the methods and principles of Participatory Design which assumes ‘users’ are the experts of their own domain and should be actively involved in the design process.
The lease for the space was awarded to the Yes Disability Trust by the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board in mid-2016. A steering committee has been formed and the team at YES are now working closely with Younite (the Devonport-Takapuna Youth Board), towards their shared vision of creating a unique youth innovation space.
“The intention is that the new space supports the growth and development of young people so that they can step into their future potential,” explains Sonia Thursby, CEO of Yes. “Along with this, there is a desire to ensure we honour the legacy of the RSA and the veterans in the space. Together, we can create a space that helps to meet the needs of our young people so that they can grow into their best future.”
The 10-point vision for the Shore Junction project has been determined as the following:-
“We have set about recreating this space evoking a unique co-design process that puts our young people right at the heart of the development of this centre,” adds Sonia Thursby.
“Our philosophy of ‘two floors of amazing’ means that every physical feature in the building is there because it brings out the best in people. The space offers an authentic experience for all. In addition to having the project led by the young people on our Project Steering Committee, we have engaged in extensive consultation with young people asking what they would like to see in a space dedicated to their growth and development. We have chosen the architect Matthew Godward from Godward Guthrie who, using feedback from the young people, has provided us with our first draft set of plans.”
The architect’s first draft for the centre really shows how special this facility is going to be for our young folk. The plan includes a recording studio, lecture theatre, computer and engineering labs, art rooms, exercise spaces, library, drama studio, and large sections of study space and lounge areas.
Based on the feedback from these young people, Shore Junction is being designed based on these three guiding principles:-
A key person on the steering committee is San Francisco based Sian Simpson. 25-year-old Sian, who was brought up on the Shore, is recognised as a shooting star in the innovation space and runs the Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco. Sian is passionate about the project and has been responsible for the quick development of a fantastic website and social media presence for the Junction following the name being established as a result of the co-design process.
“When I was growing up on the Shore there was a lack of places for us to hang out,” says Sian. “We weren’t necessarily bad kids, there was just a lack of places for us to go to learn, have safe space, experiment with technology, make new friends, gain work experience or have access to amazing mentors or business leaders. This lead to getting into things a little too early or in general just being bored! So I am pretty excited that we – through a co-design process with 40 of North Shore’s youth – are now developing our very own innovation centre.
“This project is one dear to my heart being a North Shore local, and also with my work at the Kiwi Landing Pad, having the visibility over our nation that I do from meeting with Corporates, Startups through to Government, Universities and Schools, I’ve noticed that pipeline truly is everything.
“What I started seeing a few years ago was that the conversations we were having with our young people wasn’t putting them in the best light for a bright future and there was hardly any information or conversations going on about the future of work or what jobs would actually exist in a future that is not only uncertain but changing very rapidly. I hope the centre is a source of inspiration for our young people to build their best future surrounded by like minds, business mentors and an inspiring space that will make the pressures of being a high achiever and person of excellence that much more manageable and perhaps even enjoyable. Watch this space.”
The co-design process kicked off with the first Project Connect workshop in September last year. The event was sponsored by YES, hosted by Younite, and facilitated by creative specialists Curative. Around 40 young people attended and collectively they set the entire framework for the project. They came up with the name and the workshop report that was produced has since been extensively used as a beacon; guiding every conversation had and every decision made.
Steering committee member Ian Lim of Younite says the Junction can be for young people to pursue their creative and business ambitions. “What Shore Junction represents, ultimately, is a vision, 15 years in the making, of a community empowering its young people to achieve phenomenal happiness and success in their future lives. It’s a collective pursuit. There has been such great support and investment behind this, and to everyone who has helped propel the vision to where it is today - I absolutely salute you.
“But to broaden the perspective a little, this project is as much about the localised product as it is about developing a flexible, scalable, replicable model that can be implemented in communities all over New Zealand and further abroad. We’re not just building a building, but also an idea. It’s experimental, it’s pioneering, and just plain exciting.
“What makes this so enjoyable an experience, for me personally as a volunteer, is having the rare opportunity to work with such a talented, diverse, motivated, passionate core team. The people I’ve interacted with have continually inspired and educated me. I have every confidence in the future success of what we’re doing here.”
The steering committee clearly see opportunities for the Junction to collaborate with other entities in the region who share a similar focus.
Smales Farm is close by, and they are home to the new New Zealand HQ of Vodafone.
Joint collaborations could generate cadetship programmes within the Junction as well as exciting interactions and exposure for young people to the high tech industry through Techapuna and through initiatives such as Youth Connections.
Massey University recently launched the Grow North Report on how to build a “Smart Innovation District” on the North Shore and consider the Junction to align with the goals and objectives of Grow North.
Shore Junction – The Pillars
Every building has a purpose, every community a conviction. The Junction supports young people who want to pursue their dreams and realise their potential. On the North Shore we believe that the need converges greatest with the opportunity in the areas defined by our pillars, upon which we are proud to stand.
Community – Imagine access to a network of people who will help nurture you to be the best you you can be. We want you to always feel safe and accepted for who you are.
Science, Engineering & Maths – Opportunities to further your education above and beyond school. We appreciate the joy and fulfilment that the experience of learning can provide.
Technology – You will be enabled to apply your theoretical knowledge to do amazing things. Be immersed in a sector that is leading and changing the way we live, work, and play.
Arts & Culture – Anything to do with the creative expression of self. You will be empowered to develop and showcase your artistic talents, and share your story with the world.
Enterprise – Business is challenging, and often the most difficult step can be to start. Expect programmes and services that will equip, inspire, and connect you as a budding entrepreneur.
The Junction will have a strong emphasis on creating small youth businesses incubation programmes such as expanding the Young Enterprise Scheme into business incubation programmes and business mentoring schemes.
There will also be a heavy focus on exploring unique skills that many young people don’t get exposed to at school or home. There will be regular seminars (like TEDx talks) focused on exposing young people to the many career paths available to them.
Schools will no doubt play a part as well. The Shore is blessed with having great schools where young people have the skills to really make a difference in their community, to New Zealand and the world we live in. Given the right environment for growth there will be no end to the innovation that comes from this space.
Shore Junction also aligns with the North Harbour Club and their AIMES Awards. The programme has been in place for over two decades and celebrates excellence of young people aged 25 years and under.
We take our hats off to the team behind this great initiative that will pay dividends for the people of the North Shore for decades to come. The Shore Junction Steering Committee is: Sonia Thursby, Ian Lim, Gary Monk, Phil Brosnan, Annaliese Hewitt, Karsten Thomson, Brendon Hosken, Sarah Cross, Linda Noble, Hugh Stedman, Sian Simpson, Joseph Bergin, Mae Everett, Henry Pivac.