Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

Te Whanau o Tupuranga, Otara, Manukau City, New Zealand

Exemplary design categories: community use and involvement, cultural and historical value, energy efficiency, green school, music and theatre facilities, outdoor spaces

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
The principal design objectives of this project were to ensure the seamless integration of the new school into the existing one by incorporating both Maori and Pasifika elements equally into the cultural and spatial fabric of the school.

The entrance to the original bilingual units building was retained, modernised and integrated into the new buildings so students move through the old into the new. The school has four large open plan teaching and learning spaces, signified by four large timber columns in the entry porch of the administration building. One of these open spaces has facilities and furniture for technology, art and science. This mix of open plan areas was designed to let the school achieve its goal of integrated subject learning in which the science, technology, art, language and mathematics of any one topic could be explored at one time with a range of teachers.

The design exemplifies Maori cultural values and enables the practice of whanau (extended family): no walls or doors separate classrooms so groups can interact and work together. The school marae (Maori meeting house and dining hall) is the hub and the heart of the school. Visitors are welcomed in this space with full Maori protocol and ceremony. Food technology is taught in the authentic setting of the marae commercial kitchen. The outdoor environment also reflects traditional Maori learning and crafts with flax for weaving and natural grasses. Traditional Maori patterns are used in paving. All of these design features enable the school to achieve its mission of teaching and learning in the Maori kaupapa (the traditions, language and knowledge of Maori).

The school has been designed to extend the learning philosophy into the landscape. The school motto, “Plant the seed in the young. It will flourish and bear fruit to nourish future generations,” was the catalyst for the environmental design. The outdoor environment aims to link student learning and the buildings to the landscape; provide landscape features that students can interpret and explore in their own ways; create an environment that fosters a sense of ownership and engenders pride in the students, staff and local community. References to Maori fibre arts, maritime navigation and connections with rivers and the sea were “woven” together so that a different theme becomes prominent in each key space throughout the school. These character spaces are each unique, but use common materials and a consistent “warm” materials and colours, including clay, timber and stone.

The school is located under the flight path of Auckland International airport. All buildings are sound attenuated and air conditioned to minimise noise. Other ecologically sustainable development (ESD) measures embodied in the design include storm water collection and re-use, and energy-efficient lighting systems.

At the same time as the major buildings were under construction, the school, in partnership with a community organisation, established a charitable trust to develop a Computer Clubhouse on the campus. This new building, with a prominent location at the front of the site, was successfully integrated into the overall design through the coordination of colours and a similar cultural design brief. The Clubhouse is an after-school, drop-in facility where students go to design and create technology. It is one of a network of 120 Clubhouses world-wide and, at the time of construction, the only one in New Zealand. The school is used by community agencies – police, health workers, and youth support groups use a variety of spaces for meetings and planning workshops. Adult performing arts groups e.g. Kapa Haka groups use both the marae and performing arts centre for weekend-long practices.

Involvement of users and the local community in the planning and design process:
The design team was made up of representatives of the project management and architectural teams, plus senior staff and members of the board of trustees of both schools. There was an open invitation to other staff and to senior students to participate and often representatives of these two groups attended design meetings or were consulted about specific areas or concepts. Local Maori (mana whenua) were also consulted about the concept and design as it developed and gave their full approval. At all stages staff, students and community were kept up to date with progress and ideas. There is a real feeling of community ownership and pride in the finished result, which is indicative of the inclusive nature of the process.

Activity Areas: 4 open learning spaces, library/information centre, large performing arts centre with mirrored stage designed for kapa haka (Maori dance), courtyard with Maori design and art work, and marae or ceremonial meeting house with whare kai (dining room)

Project costs: NZD 19,400,000.00

Source: Submitted to OECD for "Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011" in 2010

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User perspectives (1)

“The school design reflects the cultures of its community and is therefore a welcoming space for families and other groups. The school marae, “Kia Aroha”, is a cultural meeting place for the Maori community. The marae is extensively used by students and teachers for a variety of “live-in” activities and also used by the community. A refurbished building in the Clover Park site has been redesigned as a “Fale Pasifika” to provide a similar authentic gathering place for the Pasifika community. A Whanau Centre, staffed by a social worker, is integrated into the new administration building. This facility has its own entrance to allow for privacy and is the centre for a variety of initiatives to provide support for families- including, health, parenting and youth support programmes. The Performing Arts Centre is designed specifically for Maori and Pasifika performance and is widely sought after by community group exponents of these arts”.
Principal Ann Milne

Images (5)

Drawings (3)

Classroom Level 1 Plan (Registration required)
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Credit: Roy Blok of Jasmax Architects
Classroom Level 2 Plan (Registration required)
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Credit: Roy Blok of Jasmax Architects
Site Plan (Registration required)
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Credit: Roy Blok of Jasmax Architects