Students’ big dreams pay off, landing spots as ShoPOP finalists

News News & events

10 May 2018

In a post-earthquake environment that embraces creativity and change, a number of Ara students have jumped on board with ShoPOP, the Christchurch City Council’s latest initiative to brighten up the central city, and take advantage of empty shop fronts.

Two teams of Ara Art and Design students are now top three finalists in this exciting creative venture; each hoping that their design proposal will win, by receiving the most public votes before May 16.

Cast your memory back to the days when you consulted a magic 8-ball with all your important decisions. Now imagine your same childhood toy as big as a car. This is the interactive project that third year Motion Design students Kieran Drake, Alvin Singleton, and Rhys Burkitt have developed for ShoPOP.

The proposed design for the Magic 8-Ball 

“We wish to place behind a shop win­dow, a fully interactive experience in the form of an oversized “Magic 8-Ball”, created and programmed by our team which will have the ability to react to people and generate an array of traditional answers when activated by a member of the public.”

The team believe their magical project will appeal to people of all ages, encourage social interaction and bring foot traffic into the city.
“This design is relevant to the Christchurch central city because of its nostalgic feel which emulates the entire city with its old buildings crossed with modern twists.”

The other Ara project in the ShoPOP finals is ‘Framing the Heart of our City’; an “eye-catching and engaging” art piece by Visual Communication students Samantha Blair, Johanna Ditmer, Sarah Taal and Renee Taylor.

In a society that often plays out life online this group of female students aimed to create an “instagram-able” design, providing a colourful photo opportunity for locals and tourists alike.

Proposed design for 'Framing the Heart of our City'

“We will use a solid background and then hang approximately four frames lined with LED lights so the design still stands out at night. Inside the frames will be a letter made up of three layers of Perspex…You won't be able to instantly read the word; instead you will need to position yourself to gain the whole experience.”

The students innovative idea of fragments coming together to make the abbreviation CHCH, was a way for them to artistically represent “the city coming together as it recovers from the earthquake.”

Voting for the student category will take place between 9-16 May on the Council’s Facebook page ( The winning designs from the student category, and open public category will be installed, and in place for public viewing from June.

As part of it's Enliven Places programme the Council developed ShoPOP to “activate the exciting new buildings being built” in the CBD. As Christchurch has moved through a rebuild and recovery phase, it has been wonderful to see imagination and innovation applied to empty lots in the city, with the likes of Gapfiller, Greening the Rubble and Life In Vacant Spaces leading the charge.

As the Council says, “a unique opportunity has emerged as these sites have evolved into buildings with available floor space”, as such ShoPOP has emerged at a different phase in Christchurch’s development. The Council’s brief for this project called for “concepts that would cause someone to do a double take and spend a moment marvelling at the creation within.”

The ShoPOP initiative has taken inspiration from overseas examples of creative shop fronts, including the ‘Beautiful- On or Off’ augmented reality window display at John Lewis Stores in London, and an installation of dancing tennis balls in a New York Lacoste shop.

More information on how to vote for the Ara teams here: