Friday 23 March 2012 8:36am
An innovative collaboration between staff and students from the University of Otago’s Department of Applied Sciences and the Maniototo Revitalisation Project is demonstrating the potential for learning opportunities that can also benefit the community.
Undergraduate and postgraduate students and staff will be making a ‘site visit’ to Ranfurly today (Friday 23 March) to experience the unique qualities of their place. Senior Lecturer in Design Dr Noel Waite, Professional Practice Fellow Michael Findlay and Masters student Jess White will also present an initial report they were commissioned to prepare.
The Maniototo Revitalisation Project (or Project Maniototo) is a three-year community revitalization project funded by the Department of Internal Affairs. When Project Coordinator Amie Pont approached Mr Findlay for advice about revitalizing the town’s Art Deco architectural drawcard in November 2011, he saw the potential for a broader initiative that would open up learning opportunities for students.
“We were asked to provide advice about what could be done looking at aspects such as signage and branding,” says Mr Findlay. “We soon recognised that the need was bigger, encompassing things like Ranfurly’s relationship with [nearby village] Naseby and the surrounding landscape, and the locals’ relationship with their community.”
Mr Findlay and Dr Waite set about identifying different ways in which students could be involved, assisting the community initiative with ideas and advice in return for a valuable opportunity to test and apply design principles in a ‘real’ setting.
Among these are three Masters and two Honours level projects, including a suggested approach for the redisplay of Ranfurly's Art Deco Gallery in the former Centennial Milk Bar and a strategy addressing how locals can re-experience their the unique qualities of their community. There is also a product design challenge for nine third-year undergraduate students.
“Applied sciences are very interdisciplinary,” explains Dr Waite. “Design for innovation is all about people and stakeholders. This project presents an ideal opportunity for our students to apply design principles to real challenges in a real context, and that also involves working with members of the local community in a participatory way. We also hope the students collaborate amongst themselves and inspire each other.”
The student projects will run until November when their outcomes, which will include comprehensive design briefs, will be incorporated into a final report.
For further information, contact
Dr Noel Waite
Senior Lecturer, Department of Applied Sciences
University of Otago / Te Whare Wänanga o Otägo
Tel 64 3 479 7511
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