Scientists, creatives, technologists and environmental activists set up an innovation lab in an empty dress shop in the Whangarei CBD. All in the name of activating the CBD. It was called Strandlab and operated during May 2019.

Strandlab was set up as cross disciplinary research and innovation lab and a creative technology hub located in the The Strand Shopping Centre. It was all about rejuvenating the CBD, activating the technology sector and activating Whangarei as an innovation hub in NZ.

The month long pop-up started 6 May 2019. Talks, residencies, workshops, installations and activations carried through until 7th June. Residents included artists, scientists, cultural experts, 3D Modelling, augmented reality and virtual reality experts. Strandlab hosted remote working corporate employees from Mozilla Corporation/Mozilla Firefox, digital artists and international game designers.

A number of peer to peer industry workshops took place on topics such as including Projection Mapping, Green Screen, Social Media and User Experience Design (UX). Students from a variety of institutions also visited for talks and classes. In particular, Digital Arts at Northtec actively worked with us to host classes in our space and have input from industry experts on content. The Green Screen workshop was run by NorthTec tutors for industry and students together – leading edge practice in the tertiary sector. In total 10 workshops/events and seminars took place over the month and over 400 invited guests visited the space. To see photos from these activities take a look at the Strandlab FB page.

According to Dr Maggie Buxton (Director of AwhiWorld), Strandlab was a space designed to disrupt thinking and to activate and innovate. “It is all about getting everyone excited about rejuvenating the CBD.” Dr Buxton has worked in similar labs in Europe and has not seen this particular way of working enacted in NZ until now.

Strandlab is a collaboration between core partners AwhiWorld, Northland Chamber of Commerce, Mahuta Digital, Propagarium Research Group and #creativetechnorthland

Supporters include Bell Tech (tech equipment), Fastsignz Whangarei (signs), NDSL (3D printer) and Spark Business (Broadband)