Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ghost town

Listening to: Red Sails in the Sunset - Midnight Oil (1984).

One of the bigger annual bookfairs around here is held on bits of the old Central Institute of Technology (CIT) campus in Heretaunga. At first the organisers used one of the bigger foyers, but outgrowing that they have occupied the gym. CIT happens to be where I did my tertiary training; I know the campus fairly intimately. After the bookfair last year I took the opportunity to wander through the campus on the way back to my car. A few months later I came back with my camera.

CIT opened in 1975 or so, and operated until the early 2000's, most of its courses moving to a smaller and less purpose built site further down the valley as part of merger with one of the regional Polytechnics. Some smaller operators utilised parts of the site after it closed, but at the moment it is effectively abandoned beyond essential caretaking work.

Having seen it alive and vibrant and full of people, seeing it empty and dead is a bit bittersweet, especially as the buildings look just the same now as then. Wandering around the site with a couple of classic 90's albums on my MP3 made it even more so, bringing back a lot of memories. I graduated in 2000; all but one of these shots are from August 2009.

About halfway between the teaching blocks and the cafeteria and library, this bit of grass was a good spot on a warm summers day to sit between classes with a walkman and watch the world go by. Especially when the first-year students were in their "I don't have to wear school uniform anymore-I can wear whatever I want, no matter how revealing" stage.
This is A-block (right) and the F-block stack of lecture theatres (middle). A-block was my turf. All of the pure science labs were in there. Before they planted trees and bisected it with a path, the field in front of the buildings saw many a pick up game of touch rugby, often with massive numbers of players on each side. The field wasn't even though. It sloped down toward the building, giving extra speed to any attackers. The speed though was more than compensated for though by the field at that end being several metres narrower than the one opposite, thus a lot easier to defend.
The pit below the lecture theatres in front of the main entrance was a great place to hang out between classes, play hackysack, and watch fallen leaves get blown into whirlwinds by air moving around the big concrete sail above it.
A big concrete sail that I abseiled down a few times, captured on film in 1996. (it was an orientation thing, organised by the event management course). This will be handy for proving to my daughter that her father was once young and craaaazzy too, using ropes and a harness to get down a six storey buidling that had at least two functional staircases and lifts. It's easy once you get over the edge of the parapet and lean back.
The Halls of Residence still look just the way they did in the 1990's.
Each residential block was linked by these elevated walkways at each floor. You could get quite a long way without having to descend to ground level. I recall at least one pitched lightsabre battle at dusk on one of these.
The campus map is still visible though one of the foyer windows.
The tree lined avenue between leading to the railway station. Ran down this a few times, either to get to a train, or to a class.
The hospitality course ran its own restaurant for the student chefs to practice in, priced to suit its student clientelle.
Deserted cafeteria seating, scene of countless cups of strong coffee, and the occasional pool ball dropping from the student lounge above.
Something I never entirely figured out attached to the admin block. Initially I thought it was some kind of hoist, until it occurred to me it might be a sculpture of some kind. While apparently sculptural, it also seems to be part of the roof drainage. It was always dripping water and still is.
This is where the semi infamous 'Clubhouse' bar was. Set up in a couple small of ex-army looking pre-fab buildings, it was the scene of many a cheap beer ($2.50 a bottle), and many a good time, as well as being a local hub for underage drinking, despite being ostensibly students only. It was generally only open Fridays, between 3pm and midnight (or whenever the manager turned up in the afternoon, or the cops at night).

The bar site sums up the whole place. Used to be something here, now its just memories and architecture.

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