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We’re excited to see the School of Biological Sciences moving to the new building and the University’s science precinct, which will put science in the public eye and is a legacy for the future.

Rodney Sampson

Te Toki a Rata, the new building for the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington, has been completed on schedule in time to open its doors for the 2018 first trimester.

Designed by Warren and Mahoney architects, the 12,500mfacility on the Kelburn campus is a long, low, four-storey building that accommodates four undergraduate teaching labs, two ‘super labs’, and collaborative learning spaces.

“We’re excited to see the School of Biological Sciences moving to the new building and the University’s science precinct, which will put science in the public eye and is a legacy for the future,” says Rodney Sampson, lead architect.

The development aligns with the University’s strategy for growth and supports the Government’s aspirations to foster a prosperous, technology-driven New Zealand. Designed for the digital age, the school provides a highly collaborative workplace and future-proofed modern facilities for students, lecturers and researchers.

To achieve these multi-layered objectives, Warren and Mahoney undertook a comprehensive three-year research and consultation process with the science community, watching the way students, lecturers and researchers work, and visiting overseas establishments to ascertain international best practice.

The architects identified the need to open up connections between different fields of science to allow a cross-pollination of ideas. Sampson: 

“Innovative research and learning is about people interacting so we aimed to break down the physical barriers between traditional science groups by providing stronger connections.”

Internally, the layout is flexible with minimal boundaries to ensure a blended research and learning environment that maximises opportunities for student/researcher engagement.  The labs are well connected to the student spaces and not isolated or siloed,” explains Sampson.

Glass-walled laboratories mean undergraduates can see the scientists at work – and imagine what their own future might be like.

Spaces throughout the building can be reconfigured to suit the changing needs of the facility which future-proofs the school. Two ‘super-labs’ are large-scale, open, adaptable environments that promote increased collaboration and ‘flex’ between users groups, ensuring that teams can adapt quickly to best address emergent research projects.

“The screening that wraps the façade provides solar protection but its vertical profile is also suggestive of DNA markers – the integral building blocks in our understanding of biological science,” says project architect, Catherine O’Hare of Warren and Mahoney.

A cultural narrative also informed the architects’ thinking. The screening doubles as a contemporary expression of a ‘takitaki or palisade’, commonplace on marae and pa sites providing reference to the hillside location.  Building details are layered and folded, all elements consistent with Maori and Pacific Island design.

Appropriately for a building which celebrates the biological sciences, there was a focus on sustainable materials and energy efficiency. The palette of timber, concrete and stone was, where possible, left natural to minimise the need for chemical coatings. The exposed thermal mass of the concrete retains heat, displacement ventilation keeps the spaces cool, and a narrow floor plate harnesses sunlight to provide a balance of comfort without excessive energy use. Tanks collect rainwater for re-use within the building and atriums inter-link interior spaces with the newly landscaped external environments to reinforce a connection to nature.

Te Toki a Rata is a critical gateway to the science precinct of the University. “It’s a dynamic yet permeable boundary,” says Sampson “that links visually and physically to the campus beyond.” A covered vehicle drop off and separate pedestrian entries were created while routes through the building and walkway links to existing infrastructure ensure it integrates with the campus as a whole. A centralised plaza between this gateway and the established buildings is a lively meeting hub for students.

Another focus for the building was to identify as integral to the Wellington landscape. Its folded façade references the topography of the site, and the curves of the ocean and land at the harbour edge. Its articulated form sets up a confident, open relationship between the capital and one of New Zealand’s premier teaching and research institutions.  

“The design of Te Toki a Rata fosters innovation, brings more vibrancy to the city and contributes to growing the New Zealand economy through world-class science,” says Sampson. 

 

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Waterview Connection

The New Zealand Institute of Architects honoured innovation and celebrated old and new at their local awards this year.

The awards are part of the New Zealand Architecture Awards programme run by the New Zealand Institute of Architects

This year’s Canterbury jury was led by architect Melanda Slemint. 

“What really stood out is the way architects have been able to keep sight of the human scale, and the context within which the projects sit. Christchurch is undergoing a period of identity change, and some of the new projects speak eloquently about the quality of life we celebrate here,” Slemint noted.

“The world’s best cities have a fine-grained rhythm that creates interest and variation and prevents streets and public spaces from being overwhelming. As post-quake Christchurch continues to develop, it is heartening to see that the city’s architects are attuned to the needs of people.”

Canterbury

King Edward Barracks – Commercial Building Award 

“A fearless sense of adventure and invention is expressed by the skin of this building, that is lyrical and sensuous, and complementary to both the plan and the commercial character of the building. The building acknowledges the river and courtyard like a parent loves a good daughter or son. The Right Honourable R. J. Seddon, Premier and Minister of Defence, would be proud of the fact that 113 years on, his stone still holds centre stage in this fine new building,” the jury commented.

The Arts Centre of Christchurch – Heritage and Restoration Award 

“Designed by Colin Hammond, the EA building is one of several Gothic Revival Buildings that combine to form the Arts Centre, a unique and important part of the cultural and historical heritage of Christchurch, even more so in the post-earthquake city. Accessibility has been introduced to all levels and spaces reconfigured to allow the School of Music to operate effectively in this historic building.

Every detail has been carefully considered in this sympathetic restoration which has breathed life back into the building,” the jury said. 

RJ Stewart Glandovey Road – Heritage and Restoration Award 

A large part of the comprehensive repair of this 80 year old Helmore and Cotterill home was the process of jacking up and relocating the primary structural to allow access to the subfloor. The judges commended the architects for their respect of the original detailing in creating this elegantly designed home.

“Sensitive alterations and extensions to the primary plan have allowed for a conservatory, new service buildings, glasshouse and garage that complement the original building and create seamless transitions from old to new,” the jury said.

Chapman Tripp – Interior Architecture Award 

The jury commended the simple and elegant materiality of this project noting that the light timber and white walls complement the art displayed. Gorgeous views, two exterior terraces, staff breakout rooms and flexible spaces make this workspace a delight to be in, the judges say.

“The simple idea of dividing a long, narrow interior with a spine wall imparts a clear sense of order. This wall also offers a welcoming gesture by creating a stepped series of panels where art is hung and built-in seating provided.”

Christchurch Justice & Emergency Services Precinct – Public Architecture and Interior Architecture Awards

The Justice and Emergency Services Precinct is a Christchurch rebuild ‘anchor project’ that the jury described as a “building without local precedent” that “encompasses many public functions necessary for society to work well.”

“Arranged loosely around a courtyard, this is an imposing building of incredible complexity. Formally ordered to the last sun louvre, it has a palate of materials that suggests endurance. In court, it is perfectly permissible to seek clarification of any ruling. In this instance the ruling is good; this is a well-conceived and beautifully constructed project.”

University of Canterbury College of Engineering – Education Award 

“Separate engineering facilities are now connected to form one cohesive College of Engineering through the design of a new central linking core. This new hub is the strength of this project: the primary elevation is carefully composed, the entry to the college provides an interesting spatial experience, and the hub provides for a wide variety of activities. The atrium is enclosed by a trussed ceiling that is a clear, and appropriate, expression of structural engineering,” the jury said.

The Wool Exchange – Enduring Architecture Award 

This building that originally housed the auction of wool goods was converted into a religious meeting place. The auctioneers’ podium was made in to a lectern for preaching and the square plan that once housed hectic auctions is now used by a Chinese religious congregation. 

The jury said, “The skylight and stairs are exciting architectural moves in an otherwise stolid structure built for endurance like a tight-head prop. In a post-earthquake city, this building has reinforced to the public the message that architecture can endure adversity.”

Auckland

119 Great North Road – Commercial Building, Interior Architecture and Colour Awards 

A winner of three awards this year, this building thoroughly impressed the jury inside and out. “The exposed steel and concrete beams and concrete trusses evoke the modern industrial genesis of automobiles, and sleek surfaces complement the cars’ sculptural forms,” the jury commented about this luxury car showroom and office building’s interior.

The meticulous logistics planning and rigorous detailing mirror the intricacy of the luxury cars on offer. Office interiors are highly polished and the two-storey concrete truss that braces the building is a dramatic diagonal element that adroitly frames the ‘jewel box’ car displays.

King’s School Centennial Building – Education Award 

The jury said the design of this building has “clearly articulated the desire for a learning environment that would create a positive pedagogical impact.”

The well-resolved design incorporates open, flexible and specialised teaching areas that support strong student engagement and interactivity. By opening to Portland Road, the project also shows generosity to the public realm.

Waterview Connection – Planning and Urban Design Award 

This project was a response to growing pressure on Auckland’s infrastructure and the jury commended it for its, “sheer grandeur.” Of particular note was Te Whitinga, the Hendon footbridge, of which the jury said, “[It] successfully and dramatically stitches back together a community that had found itself on either side of the motorway.”

Warren and Mahoney has added a layer of sophistication to the development of this motorway infrastructure project. The use of pou at ventilation shafts and as markers at each portal, seamlessly integrated with the tunnel, brings sheer grandeur to the project.

Wellington

Te Toki a Rata Victoria University of Wellington – Education Award

On the University’s Kelburn campus this science building provides a “legible new gateway.” The jury said, “The building unites this part of the university and forms a dark, reflective backdrop to the array of existing buildings on the opposite side of the courtyard.”

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King's School Centennial Building

Warren and Mahoney was recognised with five awards at the Property Council Rider Levett Bucknall Property Industry Awards last Friday.

Held annually, the awards judge property developments on their economic and financial attributes, vision, design, construction, end user satisfaction and sustainability credentials. Five projects designed by Warren and Mahoney won at the black-tie, sold-out event, which was held at Auckland’s Spark Arena.

Warren and Mahoney’s Managing Director John Coop applauded all who delivered the winning projects.

“We are particularly proud of the projects that we have collaborated on and achieving recognition in four diverse categories. Delivering specialist work across this breadth of sectors requires true depth of capability. The Property Council Awards judge projects on their commercial success and viability, as well as their design. Congratulations to our clients and collaborators."

Judged over a course of three months, the winning entries were:

Warren & Mahoney Civic & Arts Property Award
Excellence
Justice & Emergency Services Precinct, Christchurch

GIB Education Property Award
Excellence & Best in Category
King’s School Centennial Building, Auckland

RCP Commercial Office Property Award
Excellence
12 Madden Street, Auckland 

RCP Commercial Office Property Award
Excellence
Pita Te Hori Centre (King Edward Barracks), Christchurch 

Holmes Consulting Tourism & Leisure Property Award
Excellence
Auckland International Airport Pier B Extension Project, Auckland

 

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Architectural Graduate at Warren and Mahoney's Auckland studio, Divya Purushotham, is the newest Co-Chair of Architecture+Women-NZ after being promoted from the role of Secretary.

Appointed earlier this week, Divya joins current Co-Chair and Architect Lynda Simmons to support A+W-NZ’s core aims of visibility and inclusiveness. The organisation provides a support system and makes the work of its members visible, by removing or reducing as many barriers as possible - including class, religion, culture, sexual orientation or age. A+W-NZ works from the strong platform of gender, for the benefit of the industry as a whole.

“I am delighted to take on this position for an organisation that does important work. Discussing issues around diversity and workplace culture can be a great tool for the visibility of many other groups in the profession. We wouldn’t be where we are if we weren’t already talking about these issues but particularly, if it wasn’t for previous generations of female architects who have worked tirelessly to achieve this nurturing environment for the rest of us.”

She also credits Warren and Mahoney’s support. 

“Warren and Mahoney has been immensely supportive of my involvement with A+W-NZ. Adding to this, generous sponsorships towards the SGA Building Workshop and the Diversity + Inclusion Panel event held at our Auckland Studios earlier this year have enabled some key events and conversations for the organisation.”

Divya takes on the role following the resignation of Elisapeta Heta, who stepped down from Co-Chair after many years of service to A+W-NZ.

 

Nzia Awards

The New Zealand Institute of Architects Canterbury branch honoured innovation and restoration at their local awards this year. The jury conferred 34 wins in 10 categories last night at the Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch. 

Warren and Mahoney received a total of eight awards, recognising human scale and the context within the projects sit.

"Christchurch is undergoing a period of identity change, and some of the new projects speak eloquently about the quality of life we celebrate here,” Slemint noted.

“The world’s best cities have a fine-grained rhythm that creates interest and variation and prevents streets and public spaces from being overwhelming. As post-quake Christchurch continues to develop, it is heartening to see that the city’s architects are attuned to the needs of people.”

Chapman Tripp - Interior Award

The jury commended the simple and elegant materiality of this project noting that the light timber and white walls complement the art displayed. Gorgeous views, two exterior terraces, staff breakout rooms and flexible spaces make this workspace a delight to be in, the judges say.

“The simple idea of dividing a long, narrow interior with a spine wall imparts a clear sense of order. This wall also offers a welcoming gesture by creating a stepped series of panels where art is hung and built-in seating provided.”

Christchurch Justice & Emergency Services Precinct - Interior Award + Public Award

The Justice and Emergency Services Precinct is a Christchurch rebuild ‘anchor project’ that the jury described as a “building without local precedent” that “encompasses many public functions necessary for society to work well.”

“Formally ordered to the last sun louvre, it has a palate of materials that suggests endurance. In court, it is perfectly permissible to seek clarification of any ruling. In this instance the ruling is good; this is a well-conceived and beautifully constructed project.”

Glandovey Road - Heritage Award

A large part of the comprehensive repair of this 80 year old Helmore and Cotterill home was the process of jacking up and relocating the primary structural to allow access to the subfloor. The judges commended the architects for their respect of the original detailing in creating this elegantly designed home.

“Sensitive alterations and extensions to the primary plan have allowed for a conservatory, new service buildings, glasshouse and garage that complement the original building and create seamless transitions from old to new,” the jury said.

King Edward Barracks - Commercial Award

“A fearless sense of adventure and invention is expressed by the skin of this building, that is lyrical and sensuous, and complementary to both the plan and the commercial character of the building. The building acknowledges the river and courtyard like a parent loves a good daughter or son. The Right Honourable R. J. Seddon, Premier and Minister of Defence, would be proud of the fact that 113 years on, his stone still holds centre stage in this fine new building,” the jury commented.

The Arts Centre of Christchurch - Chemistry Building - Heritage Award

“Designed by Colin Hammond, the EA building is one of several Gothic Revival Buildings that combine to form the Arts Centre, a unique and important part of the cultural and historical heritage of Christchurch, even more so in the post-earthquake city. Accessibility has been introduced to all levels and spaces reconfigured to allow the School of Music to operate effectively in this historic building. Every detail has been carefully considered in this sympathetic restoration which has breathed life back into the building,” the jury said.

University of Canterbury - College of Engineering - Education Award

“Separate engineering facilities are now connected to form one cohesive College of Engineering through the design of a new central linking core. This new hub is the strength of this project: the primary elevation is carefully composed, the entry to the college provides an interesting spatial experience, and the hub provides for a wide variety of activities. The atrium is enclosed by a trussed ceiling that is a clear, and appropriate, expression of structural engineering,” the jury said.

The Wool Exchange - Enduring Architecture

This building that originally housed the auction of wool goods was converted into a religious meeting place. The auctioneers’ podium was made in to a lectern for preaching and the square plan that once housed hectic auctions is now used by a Chinese religious congregation.

The jury said, “The skylight and stairs are exciting architectural moves in an otherwise stolid structure built for endurance like a tight-head prop. In a post-earthquake city, this building has reinforced to the public the message that architecture can endure adversity.”