THE ICONIC boilerhouse is one step closer to its future as the University of New England’s child Discovery Space.
In 1991 Maurice Wyndham donated $50,000 to the university – that has been gathering interest since, and will now be put toward the boilerhouse.
The $10 million build will turn the arresting, brutalist design into a space where children learn through play.
Vice-chancellor Annabelle Duncan said the project should help break down barriers between regional children and tertiary education.
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“I think it’s a real shame that in Australia you’ve got only half the chance of going to university if you live in a regional community,” she said.
“By opening our doors and bringing children in from a very early age, we’re hoping that will encourage them to develop their imagination and intellect.”
Mr Wyndham’s daughter, Margaret Chapman, visited the university on Friday – almost 27 years to the day since her father made the significant contribution.
Mrs Chapman had her photo taken on the lawns of Booloomimbah in 1991 for the Armidale Express.
“My father lost his sight when our children were small, in his middle years I suppose, that curtailed his ability to interact with other people,” she said.
“To be able to get this to have input into this, because of course as his daughter I benefited from so many of his interest and activities, to pass his enthusiasm on through this venture to the next generation and all the succeeding generations means a lot, because it’s there for the future.”
The boilerhouse bore the load of heating at the university from 1961 to 2000, and will keep its industrial history while incorporating a steampunk vibe.
The children’s Discovery Space will showcase research-led discovery experiences designed in consultation with the university’s early childhood and science-based learning specialists.
It’s expected to be finished by June 2020.