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Thursday, 23 May 2019 05:01 am

$80 million Cuba St creative hub plan to house 1000 students

WELLINGTON region’s two polytechs are to bring their arts programmes under one roof in a new $80 million building housing 1000 students.

The Cuba St building will be the first major programme related project for Whitireia and WelTec, which are governed by the same council.

The project will see the former Deka building on the corner of Dixon and Cuba streets undergo a transformation which will include a new six-story building for creative technologies students.

The new purpose built building, the first of its kind in New Zealand, will feature specialised equipment and work areas including dance studio, a 250 seat theatre and dark-rooms for film photography.

The two polytechnics will bring their programmes together and house them under one roof, while remaining their individual entities.

“We’re two separate and strong, complimentary instutitions,” says Whitireia Community Polytechnic chief executive Don Campbell.

“We’re working together to provide the best opportunities for students.”

Building owners Willis Bond & Co, which will contribute $60 million in the deal, are in negotiations with the polytechnics over a lease period.

All three organisations declined to comment on the lease period yesterday. Whiteria and Weltec are contributing $20million to the total cost. The idea behind the new facility was raised 18 months ago.

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CREATIVE THINKING: From left, Weltec chief executive Linda Sissons, Mark McGuinness of Willis Bond, joint council chair Roger Sowry, and Whitireia chief executive Don Campbell at the launch yesterday.

Willis Bond & Co managing director Mark McGuiness says the idea was always to retain the iconic façade of the building.

“A city is like a living organism, each part of the city has it’s own vibe,” he says.

While we’re good at creating new buildings, we wanted to keep that Cuba Street feel.”

Of the programmes, 40% will belong to Weltec, and the remainder are Whiteria, says Weltec chief executive Linda Sissons.

She says the consolidation of teaching and resources in a state-of-the art facility is set to be mutually benefical to both organisations and students.

“Students will discover links that they did not know where there, and will go strength to strength.”

Weltec’s programmes fall under three main blocks of teaching – hair and beauty, creative technologies and event management.

Creative technologies students participate in projects alongside WOW, Wellington Fashion week and most recently the Broadway musical Annie.

As the job market and the economy improve, job opportunities will increase for arts students, says Mr Campbell.

“It’s all about creating better choices for students, and providing them with the best opportunities.”

“If you look at the job market, it’s in pretty good shape. We’ve factored in some growth of students, 15% over five years,” he says.

Whitireia programmes in the new building will come from the NZ Film and Television School, Wellington Performing Arts Centre, Whitireia Media Training Centre, which includes journalism, radio, publishing and creative writing, applied arts programmes.

Impression of new polytech development

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