Architectural student EXIT design Award

Architectural student EXIT design Award

A West Coast man is giving back to his community in the best way he knows how, by designing a museum as part of a proposed Pike River Mine memorial and visitor centre project.

Originally from Greymouth, the museum design was instigated by CPIT Bachelor of Architectural Studies student Cory Devine as his final year project. If accepted, his concept would be part of a proposed memorial and visitor centre at the former mine, where 29 men lost their lives in one of New Zealand's worst tragedies, on November 19, 2010.

"Pike River has a deep meaning for me, coming from Greymouth. I was there five years ago when it happened. It feels good to be giving back to the community," Devine said.

The 22 year-old's concept is incorporated into a design based on the yellow ribbon of hope that Greymouth people wore in the tragic aftermath of a gas explosion that trapped miners 2,200 metres from the mine's entrance. 

A memorial hall features strongly in the design, which includes an incision to let in a shaft of light, which would shine directly onto a line of 29 miner's hats, on the tragedy's annual anniversary.

Devine was a pupil at Greymouth High School when the disaster occurred and knew some of victims, one of them a family friend.

"My father is an engineering contractor and he was there just four days before the explosion too, so it's all very close to home."

He is combining a heartfelt interest in contributing to his Greymouth community while completing electives for his design major, which will be displayed at CPIT'S Bachelor of Architectural Studies Exhibition – EXIT, from tomorrow (Tuesday November 3) until November 9.

"When I decided to do the project I visited the site and met with the families. It was the most intense thing I've ever been through."

His concept had received full support from the Pike River Families Committee, spokesman Colin Smith said.

"Those Pike River family members who met Cory were very moved by his desire to undertake the proposed project and his passion and commitment to produce an outcome which would attract people to want to find out more about the Pike River Mine Tragedy."

Smith said it was important to families that the public remembered the story of Pike, its effects and the lessons to be learned from the disaster.

"An important part of keeping that story alive is the place where the story is communicated to others."

The Greymouth community and Pike River Mine families' will be meeting to consider Devine's concept in mid-December.

Fairfax Media news website Stuff reported earlier this year that along with a visitor centre, the Pike River families' group had also asked the Government to consider the establishment of a 20 kilometre walking track through the mine site, which was to be absorbed into the adjoining 30,000 hectare Paparoa National Park.

The families' group proposed that the existing mine building infrastructure could to be used to create an accommodation and visitor centre for the families and the public.

Family members saw the creation of a walking track and visitor centre as "a positive way of providing an enduring memorial" to the victims, and "an enduring economic benefit to the local West Coast communities which suffered significantly from the loss of the mine".