Western Springs College Ngā Puna O Waiōrea is a co-educational, co-governance secondary school on 10.1930 hectares of land. Originally built in 1963 on a landfill site over a historic lava flow, the $80m, 10,390m² redevelopment is the largest redevelopment of an existing state school in New Zealand to date. The School was designed for a 1,700 roll and future proofing for a 2,500 roll.
CLIENT BRIEF/PROJECT CHALLENGES
The need to rebuild 80% of the buildings due to subsidence issues allowed the school to redefine their pedagogical approach. The new campus heart was ‘Main Block’, a three-storey, 6,900m² Innovative Learning Environment with 56 classroom-equivalent spaces. The need to substantially rebuild (by 2013, 80% of the campus’ buildings had been marked for demolition (largely due to the subsidence issues), allowed the school to redefine their approach to teaching and learning, allowing them to shift from traditional cellular classrooms to a fully collaborative Innovative Learning Environment, the first of its scale in New Zealand.
The new space comprised four buildings: the largest was the ‘Ken Havill Main Block’, 6,900m² three-storeys, with 56 classroom equivalent teaching spaces. The majority of learning happens under one roof giving the campus a university feel. The floors were designed as ‘learning hubs or communities’, within which were teaching and learning spaces, meeting room pods, specialist presentation rooms, resource rooms, teacher workrooms, toilet facilities and hydration stations. The Main Block connects at Level 2 to a new multi-purpose Gymnasium. The redevelopment includes a new two-storey teaching and learning building for Waiōrea (Waiōteao) and the Whare Tapere (Te Rehu), a multi-purpose hall and performance space.
WSP actively engaged with the principal around the design and construction phases of the rebuild process. The Ministry had established a forum at the outset to provide key decisions to be made and explored collectively via a Design Control Group, made up of Board members as well as key leadership staff. Community meetings were held at key stages during the design and construction to keep the parents and the community informed of what was happening. Alongside the design team and educational experts, the staff and students were an integral part of the briefing and design process. Vision groups were formed to establish key objectives and the staff provided input at sustainability workshops.
Western Springs College is a successful school with an excellent academic record so there was a need to take academic staff on the 'journey' from the traditional classroom environment they knew so well, to an open, fully collaborative Innovative Learning Environment. Professional development support was provided to key teaching staff during the building project. The architects provided furniture prototyping so the teachers and students could adapt to working in this type of environment prior to moving into the new spaces. Having an operational School with all the construction activity taking place on site was testing at times, but the students and teachers showed amazing resilience, with a clear focus on maintaining teaching and learning despite all that was going on around them. Students fondly remember the ‘container bridge’ that enabled them to access the gymnasium, turf and sports fields across the construction road without hindrance or danger as just one of the many innovations that were put in place to keep us operational.
Cultural and community engagement was a key project driver. Western Springs College and Ngā Puna O Waiōrea, a Te Reo Māori immersion kura both operate collaboratively at the College. The design team and School worked together early in the project to identify opportunities to convey the deeper cultural significance of the site and setting a framework for engaging artists.
The project aligns under our principle of Future Ready and was awarded the NZBC Green Star, the benchmark for design with the following achievements:
- Early energy modelling informed the design
- Building platforms excavated of landfill material down to basalt, ‘dig and replace’ - providing restoration of the Meola Creek ecology and healing the historic landfill site by removal of refuse from next to waterway
- 30,000m3 of landfill were excavated from the site
- Stormwater management - surface swales to prevent direct infiltration to the land fill and into the creek
- Buildings designed to significantly reduce their operational energy costs over the life of the buildings including heat recovery ventilation for highly ventilated areas (workshops/ lab spaces)
- Efficient thermal envelope - warm roof, double glazing, sun shading to reduce solar hear gain and above-coderequired insulation levels
- Ground Floor overhang allows for windows/ doors to be open in all weather for access, passive ventilation and shading lower windows
- Atrium - passive stack effect ventilation, with opening windows on the external façade, the clerestory providing effective daylight harvesting into large floorplates
- Future proof - solar hot water and photovoltaics
- Low VOC materials and finishes with high recycled content
- Extensive use of sustainable NZ pine interior finishes for carbon sequestering, durability and local sourcing
- Biophilic design: shadow and light define space and relationship especially to the sun, season and time
- Links to the wider natural context through use of colour in reference to the Waitematā harbour and Waitakere Ranges
- Cultural design elements, such as the pou and waharoa celebrate the tuna that is only found in Western Springs and which the School have adopted as their kura motif
- Rainwater harvesting for landscape irrigation
- Site planting and integration into the wider ecology carefully considered with adjacent school property maintenance area for community-based reserve restoration work
- On-site split bin recycling, composting, worm farming and bokashi