Central library to get country’s biggest digital wall

Tūranga's digital touch-wall will be similar to the one installed at El Paso's Museum of History, in Texas. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The biggest interactive wall in the country is set to feature in the new central city library, Tūranga.

The huge, high-tech wall — a touch-sensitive, digital representation of the city, allowing users to swipe their way through a virtual world of information — will span 7m and be installed between the library’s ground-floor entrances.

City council head of libraries and information Carolyn Robertson said the type and scale of the wall is a first in New Zealand.

“Navigating your way through the touch wall’s virtual world is interactive, immersive and exciting. People can even upload their own stories, photos and video, contributing directly to the library’s online heritage collection from their devices,” she said.

Ms Robertson said the wall’s virtual “cityscape” will be set up in a way that is uniquely and intuitively Christchurch.

“It will be a big drawcard for visitors, allowing them to learn more about our city’s history and its future, in a fun and engaging way,” she said.

The wall will be installed before the library opens, which is set for the middle of the year.

“A smaller, mobile touch-wall will also be used for outreach to places such as schools, clubs and rest homes, taking the technology into communities and building on the good work and community service the libraries network already provides,” Ms Robertson said.

The digital wall will be designed and installed by Wellington-based visitor-experience design company Gibson Group, who have completed similar projects in El Paso, Texas, Copenhagen, Denmark and Cairo, Egypt.

“We are excited to finally have the opportunity to deliver this Kiwi-made experience in New Zealand, especially for such a vital project for Christchurch,” said Brett Tompkins, lead producer and co-owner of Gibson Group.

Other high-tech features planned for Tūranga include laser cutters, 3D printers, virtual reality consoles and robotics.

The $92 million public library, which is being built on the corner of Cathedral Square and Gloucester St, will be the largest in the South Island and a third larger than the city’s former earthquake-damaged central library.

It will connect five floors of knowledge, products, services and experiences, including a hands-on technology and innovation zone, a cafeteria, a 200-seat community arena, activity rooms, an exhibition space, study spaces, meeting rooms, an arts and crafts space, a video editing suite, music studio, two outdoor terraces, a children’s playground, and more.

As the flagship for the Christchurch City Libraries network, Tūranga will support 19 community, digital, and mobile libraries.