Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti, Christchurch, New Zealand

Exemplary design categories: access, community use and involvement, technology rich

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
The aim of the design project was to create spaces that support entrepreneurship, technology, and scientific thinking and capability. Facilities were thus designed as multipurpose, flexible spaces ranging from single person work stations to areas for 50 or more students. Leading edge technology is included throughout the building, with all hardware leased so that it can be regularly updated.

The interior fit-out was designed to reveal the technologies associated with the building structure and functioning. This provides a strong interior/exterior link with the extensive use of glass, metal, bold geometric form, natural materials and contrasts which define the exterior of the building. The value of education is communicated to the community through three glass faces and outdoor terraces on two levels with independent work stations.

It is the first school in New Zealand to be fully financed under the “Cash for Property” scheme, designed to give the Board of Trustees of schools a more direct role in decision-making about the property needs of a school. The Ministry of Education established the capital commitment required to develop this school of 400 in the heart of Christchurch’s central business district. This budget figure was then made available to the Board to develop a school that meets the ministry’s legislative and policy requirements. Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti leases three adjacent spaces on 12- and 8-year terms. The cost of fit-out was deducted from the figure that the ministry established, and the ongoing costs of the rent and operating expenses are funded by the ministry from an agreed rate of return on the remaining unspent capital it held.

A strong emphasis is placed on interpersonal relationships and a sense of belonging. The significant use of glass in interior walls ensures that there is a high degree of visibility without noise distractions. Because of the attention to acoustic control, noise levels in open areas remain low, making these places popular for students and staff to work individually or in social groups.

In keeping with the school’s philosophy of a genuine partnership with students, parents and staff, there are no separate facilities such as a staff room or teacher offices. Staff and students share the range of spaces as suited to the activity they are working on. On each floor of the building, there is a “lunch kitchen” where food and hot drinks can be prepared and shared in a unique social space.

Students, staff and visitors were present in the Unlimited buildings during the 6.3 magnitude earthquake on 22 February 2011. The school was evacuated and suffered extensive damage. It was announced that Unlimited would not be returning to the current buildings. Instead, the school was relocated to the Halswell Residential College campus in Aidanfield, and in 2013 the to the former Christchurch Teachers' College in Parkstone Avenue, Ilam, which is now part of the University of Canterbury.

Involvement of users and the local community in the planning and design process:
-

Activity Areas: -

Project costs: NZD 0.00

Source: 3rd CELE Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities (2006)

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Images (7)

Drawings (7)

Ground floor plan (Registration required)
application/pdf
Credit: Wynyard Design Limited
First floor plan (Registration required)
application/pdf
Credit: Wynyard Design Limited
Second floor plan (Registration required)
application/pdf
Credit: Wynyard Design Limited
Fourth floor plan (Registration required)
application/pdf
Credit: Wynyard Design Limited
Third floor plan (Registration required)
application/pdf
Credit: Wynyard Design Limited
Fifith floor plan (Registration required)
application/pdf
Credit: Wynyard Design Limited
Level M plan (Registration required)
application/pdf
Credit: Wynyard Design Limited