New Zealand Commercial Design Trends Series NZ Commercial Design Trends Vol. 30/9 - Page 29

“The western facade fronting Anzac Parade needed to bridge the area between the retail strip on one side and the leafy trees on the other. We consequently fractured this facade into three distinct modules. The building weaves in and out of the trees, while at the same time it makes a gesture out towards the streetscape. The eastern laboratory module is turned to acknowledge the orientation of the Village Green.” Terracotta-coloured ceramic panels clad the exterior, which incorporates fixed vertical sunscreens. Because these are full-height screens, they allow plenty of natural light to flood the interior, and help to angle views while maintaining a degree of privacy for the offices inside. “The terracotta colour provides visual warmth and gives the building a very earthy, Australian feel,” says Todd. “It also echoes a much older brick building on the campus.” On the western elevation the building is lifted up, so it appears to float above the ground level, thanks to a fully glazed lower level. “This is the student commons area, with a café and informal meeting and study areas,” says Todd. “It’s a very transparent, social space – you can see right through the building, which helps to give the architecture a sense of lightness.” On the north side, the building opens up to the mall, with a series of wide steps creating an easy transition into the building. The platform also functions as a gathering place for students. “In a way this facade harks back to traditional agoras and ceremonial public steps,” says Todd. “We also created a huge portal for the main entry – it resembles an enormous carved-out cube. This was formed from a precast concrete aggregate mix with a custom colour and honed finish.” Louvres along part of the north facade screen the sun from the academic offices behind. The architect says other devices were also introduced to relieve the massing of the building on this side. “We chose to push down the roof at the front to align the building with the tree canopy, and build it up at the back to accommodate the labs and plant. The roof itself is a complex curved sawtooth. We wanted to articulate each of the elevated parts, so these are treated as individual extrusions that give the building a sculptural look when viewed from the side. These elements are also expressed on the inside with curved plaster ceilings.” SEARCH | SAVE | SHARE AT 27