The former RSA building in Takapuna has undergone a major makeover into a vibrant new North Shore Youth Innovation Hub – called Shore Junction – developed to provide an inspiring place for young people to connect, collaborate and create.
Shore Junction is a facility co-designed by young people and built with the generous support of a wide range of funding organisations, Devonport Takapuna Local Board and local philanthropists.
The RSA was a well know land mark, located on the corner of Northcote Road and Mary Poynton Drive, close to Smales Farm and North Shore Hospital, that has been completely transformed and re-energised into what is being dubbed as “two floors of amazing”.
Facilities for the youngsters at Shore Junction include a fully fitted out recording studio plus an adjoining music room for budding musicians to experiment with different instruments, a creative dance studio and an art space. Much of the upstairs has been set up as a technology centre, with a focus on accelerating the knowledge and skills of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) creating a space for young people to build, code, plan and develop their skills.
Connecting with these areas are collaborative, break-out spaces with bean bags, whiteboards and large screens, which can be also be set up for youth-led events.
“We’ve set out to provide a place for young people to be all that they want to be and to accelerate their potential, build pathways to success and become tomorrow’s changemakers,” says Shore Junction Chief Executive Sonia Thursby, a driving force behind the project. “Our objective is to support young people to define their aspirations while also developing the critical skills, connections and networks that they will need to achieve those aspirations.”
Sue Stanaway, chair of Shore Junction’s board of trustees, says the AUT Millennium Centre does a great job identifying and developing young sporting talent on the Shore. Shore Junction will be the equivalent to support young people to develop a wide range of other skills and talents.
“The unfortunate reality is that some young people who stand out from the crowd can be high achievers and budding entrepreneurs however can be typecast as nerds and are amongst the most likely to be bullied. Even worse, they are over represented in our appalling youth suicide statistics.
“The aim of Shore Junction is to save and enhance young lives as well as providing a safe haven creating a sense of belonging for all young people. A space where positive connections will increase their confidence, self-worth, sense of purpose and resilience.”
Sonia Thursby says every aspect of Shore Junction has been co-designed with young people and community youth service providers. YOUnite, the local youth board for Devonport-Takapuna, helped drive the initial concept for the facility, its programme offerings and technology requirements.
“Around 400 young people have also participated in focus groups and given us feedback on what they wanted incorporated into the space, including a library. Shore Junction reflects their vision, needs and ideas.
“Architect Matthew Godward and his team have done an amazing job converting those ideas into a stunning finished product and our building contractor Brosnan Construction has delivered the project on budget and to a high standard despite having to work around the COVID-19 lockdown. Everyone that’s been through the building so far has been blown away by what’s been created.”
While Shore Junction was scheduled to open its doors on Monday 10th August, use of the premises in the first three months of operation will be restricted to 80 “prototype testers” drawn from those who participated in its establishment steering and focus groups, as well as groups from schools that have shown interest in the facility.
“We’ll be using this as a test run, if you like, to make sure Shore Junction is delivering what its users need. Also, as we want the building to be used both during and after school hours, it’s important we get schools’ and teachers’ feedback so it is working for them as well,” says Sonia Thursby. “Shore Junction’s design incorporates flexible, shared spaces which can be easily adapted to the changing needs of young people.”
Well known for her community work on the Shore, particularly as head of the YES Disability Resource Centre Trust, Sonia has spent the past 10 years envisioning and planning this innovation centre for youth.
The project gained real impetus when the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board granted a lease to Shore Junction over the ex-RSA premises at a peppercorn rental and provided a $123,000 grant to enable the building’s interior to be gutted and repurposed. Additional funding was later provided to replace the roof.
“This project has been supported for many years by the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board,” says current chair Aidan Bennett. “It know it was a project dear to the heart of former local board member and chair Joe Bergin and he was certainly one person who championed it and made things happen. Many years later it is a thrill for all of our members to see such a wonderful facility created for our youngsters by the community.”
Sue Stanaway, who has led the fundraising team for the project, says in addition to council assistance, Shore Junction has received great support from a host of businesses. “A wide variety of items have been donated including equipment and fittings for the recording studio, high-performance computer hardware and software, large screens, flooring, furniture and furnishings.
“We are also very grateful for the substantial support of a number of charitable organisations as well as generous private individuals who have donated $1000 or more and who we are calling our Shore Junction Heroes.”
She says ongoing funding will now be required for the operation of Shore Junction. Staff will include a Centre Director, a Youth Development Specialist and a Creative Technician to support the recording studio and the technology centre.
There is also “incubator” accommodation made available at no charge for 12 months for a young entrepreneurs. Initially this will house Youth Arts, a creative social enterprise that is focused on connecting, showcasing and developing the next generation of creative New Zealanders.
“We’ve had good support from our neighbours, Smales Farm, for our technology centre with a pathway possible for the start-up business to move across the road to their B:Hive co-working space,” says Sue Stanaway. “We will be looking to develop other reciprocal partnerships with local businesses, particularly tech-based industries, so our young people can be exposed to new ideas, technologies and opportunities as well as work experience.”
If you would like to support and assist Shore Junction and help grow our young people please contact Centre Director Annaliese on email at Annaliese@shorejunction.nz or visit: www.shorejunction.nz