Given most of our work is in the early stages of project creation, we usually have to wait a long time to see the projects we work on come to fruition. But in Christchurch, New Zealand, one of our best-loved projects has come to life after a few years of exceptionally hard work from the team on the ground at the Arts Centre Christchurch.

Left Bank Co. has a long standing relationship with the Arts Centre, and has been involved in several strategic projects that have evolved since the devastating earthquakes in 2011. From having worked closely with the executive team to create a strategic vision for the whole precinct, we are deeply invested in the future of this fantastic city asset.

Rutherford’s Den has long been a fixture of the Arts Centre, an historical space dedicated to the early university life of Ernest Rutherford – the man who is renowned for having split the atom – and an educational space that most school children in Canterbury have experienced. After the damage caused during the earthquakes, the Arts Centre made the strategic decision to restore, refit and reimagine Rutherford’s Den, to deliver a more culturally, technologically and internationally relevant incarnation of this great learning resource.

Left Bank Co. helped establish the creative strategy for revitalising the Den, using the vision for the precinct as a driver for the outcomes to be achieved. We worked closely with the Arts Centre CEO André Lovatt to write a creative brief designed to engage and inform a team on the development of a new look and feel for the Den, covering the brand, the space, and the experiences had within the space itself. Australian company Esem Projects were awarded the project, and have transformed the Den into a completely new experience. Delivering the curatorial, design and digital strategy, they have created digitally-enhanced and interactive exhibition experience that focuses on the themes of connectivity.

Rutherford's Den, designed and created by Esem Projects.

Rutherford's Den, designed and created by Esem Projects.

As the design and fit out was being developed, Left Bank Co. worked with the team to develop a business plan for organizing and operating Rutherford’s Den, with the aim to establish it as a sustainable and profitable business. Drawing on our team’s experience and knowledge about the management of arts and cultural enterprises, we built up a model that could accommodate the various functions of the Den, and create innovative ways to drive revenue. We then used this model to develop a comprehensive business case to seek additional funding for the Den.

This August, the culmination of hard work from the Arts Centre team, Rutherford’s Den staff and volunteers, and the various project consultants and contractors, resulted in the official opening of the Den to the public. Now accessible to the general public as well as school children, the fantastic new space is innovative, interactive, exciting and educational, and feels like a science museum. The response from the first students to experience the new Rutherford’s Den has been exceptionally positive, and Arts Centre CEO André Lovatt has said "We want people to come here and learn about Rutherford, but also be inspired about what he achieved.”

You can check out a fabulous time-lapse video of the transformation of the space below, and photos of the opening day here. We’ve loved being part of bringing Rutherford’s Den to life, and are scheduling in a visit as soon as we can!