The old Boilerhouse at the top of the UNE Armidale campus is undergoing remediation in preparation for design and construction of a flagship children’s education space managed by UNE Discovery. The Boilerhouse Discovery Space will be a new modern museum, art and cultural hub for not just Armidale, but the entire New England region.
Designed to enhance opportunities for regional children, the re-purposing of the iconic Boilerhouse as a children’s Discovery Space will enable the University of New England (UNE) to:
- Showcase research-led discovery experiences designed in consultation with both internal and external early childhood specialists;
- Work with local early childhood education providers to run extended programs to children in care;
- Offer undergraduate and postgraduate placements for education students at UNE;
- Provide spaces for community group workshops, play sessions and collaboration;
- Work closely with Aboriginal communities to share knowledge of indigenous food and gardening;
- Engage visitors in national citizen science projects;
- Showcase UNE and Armidale collections in natural history, antiquities and art;
- Offer teacher professional development programs; and
- Host artist / scientist / teacher-in-residence programs.
Early experiences and the environments in which children develop can have lasting impact on later success in school and life. The activities engaged in by children both stimulate and influence the patterns and pathways of neural centres in our brains.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our region to establish something as unique as the Boilerhouse Discovery Space, “ says UNE Discovery program leader Dr Kirsti Abbott.
“Armidale is the place to be in northern NSW for families that value quality lifelong educational opportunities. The project is capitalising on rare regional infrastructure funding opportunity currently on offer from the State government, in the areas of tourism, culture and the arts.”
The Boilerhouse Discovery Space aligns strongly with Armidale’s reputation as a regional centre of excellence in education, and with UNE’s strategic goals to build resilient and sustainable regional communities.
Kirsti says that the Boilerhouse Discovery Space is also anticipated to become an iconic educational tourism destination, and complement the already diverse offerings in the region.
A heritage approach
The new building will combine original, historically significant, features with new design and materials to be a structure of international architectural merit. The site will include highly integrated landscaping and design that will make a significant contribution to the surrounding campus and community, and demonstrate the best practices of engineering, fabrication, construction and servicing.
The Boilerhouse will also showcase outstanding environmental performance and an expected 5-star Greenstar rating (or equivalent). Staff will be able to actively monitor and adjust the environmental features of the building in order to appreciate their impacts on the indoor and outdoor environments.
Through UNE Discovery, Australia’s first regional university will ignite fires of curiosity, fuelling the confidence of each new generation of regional children to meet the challenges of the future.