Canty entrepreneur lays cable for 'design precinct'

Canterbury entrepreneur Dorenda Britten says good design is essential if New Zealand is to prosper with new and old technologies.

Canterbury entrepreneur Dorenda Britten says good design is essential if New Zealand is to prosper with new and old technologies.

The sister of the late New Zealand motorcyclist John Britten is helping to make it happen by contributing to the creation of a “design technology precinct” in central Christchurch.

Britten, a property developer who also runs consultancy Design Industry, says a burning issue for Christchurch is the redevelopment of inner-city old buildings. They cannot all be bars and cafes, she says, so she is negotiating with TelstraClear to provide tenants of Kenton Chambers in Liverpool Street with ethernet-based broadband of 2Mbit/s to 10Mbit/s to help create “a techno-savvy community”. The five-storey building with 440sq metre floors, will also feature a communications centre for videoconferencing. In addition to IT firms, the centre will host “creative” companies.

“It’s creating that community of interwoven activity that is important. You weave together the creative industries with the technologies to create a balanced community. If you go all high-tech, they go inside themselves,” she says. Kenton Chambers will also stage regional product exhibitions.

Meanwhile, some 60 designers and businesspeople from around New Zealand are this week expected to converge at Canterbury University for this year’s three-week residential workshop, which Britten is also involved in. The workshop brings together various groups and European designers, who each week will be joined by 100 New Zealand businesspeople. Those attending include staff from Aoraki/Jade, other technical people, interior designers and government staff.

Kenton Chambers tenants include Talon Technologies and Linux developers Egressive and iOpen.

Richard Waid of iOpen, who is negotiating with TelstraClear over the precinct’s broadband services, says there are few buildings like this and “we hope it will become a model for others”.

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