School of Architecture & Design

The new School of Architecture was to be housed in an old tired warehouse building on Wellington’s Vivian Street. Close to the cafes and eclectic retailers of Cuba Street, the location provided an opportunity for the school and students to interact with and add to an already diverse cultural mix in the area.


Full project info

The warehouse had very deep floor plates which created some challenges for natural lighting. The project was also subjected to significant budget and time constraints.

This building provided the opportunity for Victoria and Massey Universities with very well reputed and complementary courses in architecture and design respectively, to come together to form a new School on a downtown Wellington site.

The vision required a building that would create an environment for cross-pollination of ideas and where students could be exposed to a wider range of courses and influences.

An atrium was cut into the centre of the building, creating a heart to the building which serves as a circulation zone, exhibition space and central light well.

The atrium and the large stair that runs up through it, are where the two schools, students and staff meet and interact.

This dynamic public space encourages chance encounter, conversation and informal sharing of ideas. Spaces such as these are increasingly understood as a critical part of tertiary education design.

The building required seismic upgrade and we worked closely with the engineers to integrate the structural bracing as part of the architectural expression. By carefully modifying the existing steel roof framing we were able to add an extra floor to the building and avoided the cost of extensive additional structure.

Exposed services and visible structure were used to create an explanatory interior which itself forms part of the learning experience for architecture students. Robust cost effective materials and bold colour were used to ensure a durability, flexibility and functionality.

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