Wednesday December 20, 2017
Innovative design for improved research 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 12,500 square metre facility on the Kelburn campus accommodates several teaching 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. Designed for the digital age, the school provides a highly collaborative workplace and future-proofed facilities for students, lecturers and researchers. “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,” Rodney explains. 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,” Rodney says.
Warren and Mahoney undertook a comprehensive three-year research and consultation process with Victoria’s science community, watching the way students, lecturers and researchers work, and visiting overseas establishments to ascertain international best practice. PHOTO: Supplied
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.
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Independent Herald 20-12-17