92016Feb

50 Days and 50 Ways – #40

#40

Keep up the pressure to deliver a Gold Coast Science and Technology Centre

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I wrote the below in December 2014, when our ambitious project was launched. We’re not wedded to the site, or the specific details really, but we’re committed to showing the world the Gold Coast is a place where science and technology is celebrated and we think a centre like this can be a reality for the city. Recently, Joshua Smith, an experienced technology entrepreneur/businessman and budding science educator, took over the advocacy leadership of the project and in 2016 we’ll be forming a board of advisors who can help us see the project get the best chance for delivery after the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

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Celebrating the intellect of our great city is a pursuit I’m passionate about, and science and technology play a critical part. Complementing our beaches and theme parks, a Gold Coast Science & Technology Centre could truly diversify the character of the city, embracing local science themes like the ocean, bushland and volcanic caldera that created the spectacular hinterland – all enveloped by the dome of our amazing night sky.

Inspired by the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the Questacon of Canberra and Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, this project concept hopes to achieve two key goals;

  1. Diversify the city’s tourism offerings, giving a good reason for our 12 million visitors each year to stay “one more day” or come back and visit again, as well as attracting a visitor interested in a holiday experience that not only allows them to work on their tan and their adrenalin but also their brain.
  2. Inspire young people and old alike, both from the Gold Coast and abroad, to explore science, technology and the way things work, capitalising on our country’s talents in innovation and our fascination with creating better ways to do things.

The country village of Mudgeeraba might seem an unlikely place for a world class science centre but this geographic heart of the city, at the gateway to World Heritage-listed hinterland areas with views of the ocean and iconic skyline, is actually ideal. The design concept conjures heritage themes through material and symbolism, linking the natural environment to the built form.

Concept designer and Gold Coast company degenhartSHEDD’s multi-award winning architect, Amy Degenhart (BArch FRAIA), explores this further;

The sculptural timber columns of the four-level exhibition space echo both the economic history and the bushland context of Mudgeeraba, while the exaggerated linear form of the ramp is reminiscent of the railway lines and bridges so fundamental to its early development. But connections to the wider city are explored, too, with the angle of the entry to the dome-covered observation terrace drawing the eye along the river valley and directly to the iconic spire of the ocean-front Q1 tower. The exhibit themes themselves – geology, ocean, hinterland and space – are expressed through gabion walls echoing the geology of the region, a multi-floor aquarium at the centre of the spiral staircase and a rainforest framing the entry, all crowned by the feature space-themed dome. While the exhibition hall takes the visitor on a vertical journey from geology to astronomy, the cylindrical ‘satellite’ accommodates the gift shop, auditorium and function rooms, topped by the dramatic observation terrace, one of the best day-or-night all-weather external event venues on the Gold Coast.

With four floors packed full of experiential, tactile science experiments uniquely Gold Coast-themed, and an observation terrace with views of the ocean and hinterland, it is hoped this project concept could be advanced in 2019, with the Commonwealth Games behind us, and the legacy of international expectations upon us to deliver on our economic promises. Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter commented on what visitors to our city are seeking, and the potential that education tourism presents for the city;

The Gold Coast Tourism industry is incredibly excited about this proposal. It has been evident for years that the industry cannot simply rely on our traditional beach, hinterland, lifestyle and theme park assets if we are going to continue to thrive. Today’s tourists are searching for more, and a world class Gold Coast Science and Technology Centre would fit the bill perfectly. It has great potential, both to build on the already well established education sector, and to encourage leisure visitors to stay longer and spend more. The development would augment the new cultural centre perfectly and build on a new Gold Coast brand which befits our dynamic and forward-looking city

Located at the head of Springbrook Rd, the gateway to the Gold Coast hinterland, fronting the M1 and only 5 minutes from Bond University and Robina Town Centre the proposed site is expected to add value to the city’s retail and technology hubs in Varsity Lakes and surrounds, and it is appropriate that only one kilometre away Queensland’s best academic co-educational school in 2013, Somerset College, has it’s home. Perhaps serendipitously, the partnership between Amy Degenhart, a past Somerset mum, and technology lead on the concept, Kenji Kimura, who is a Somerset alumni, has proven fruitful with Kenji’s work rendering the concept designs virtually onto a Google Earth web plug-in, so interested commentators can experience a 360 degree flyover and around the site. Future plans include augmented reality features that might allow 3 dimensional viewing of the building from a smart phone or tablet device and ultimately culminating in walk-throughs of the building virtually prior to construction.

With the pressure of the single largest sporting event to be held in Australia this decade upon the city and the opportunity of a lifetime to diversify our economy and build our reputation as a global player amongst innovative cities to live around the world, advancing this project is proposed to help realise some of our potential and achieve objectives set out in the Destination Tourism Management Plan and Economic Development Strategy. The hunt is now on for the right public/private partnerships that can be mutually beneficial and take the project from conception to reality.

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