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Inspiration all around


Massey University’s ‘creative campus’ is set to get an inspiring boost with a new $20 million gallery and studio space for teaching and learning.


Due to open in March 2012, the 3600m₂ building in the University’s College of Creative Arts (CoCA) will provide flexible studio teaching space, alongside classrooms, a workshop, green-screen film studio, gallery and a multipurpose presentation space.

Wellington Campus Facilities Director, Gordon Whyte, says Massey’s brief asked for a sustainable, energy efficient, leading edge design to project the essence of the College, and contribute to a more dynamic campus culture.


Athfield Architects along with Dunning Thornton Structural Engineers answered this call, with an innovative design using EXPAN technology. With construction led by Arrow International, LVL timber columns and beams have been designed as a post tensioned seismic frame, with composite floors combining LVL joists and concrete slab prefabricated offsite and craned onto site to form the finished floor in the studios. The specially manufactured floors are designed to prevent creep, while enhancing the studio feel of the building.


Architect Katherine Dean says they looked to create an open plan, flexible studio teaching space for the creative arts.

“The design harks back to old fashioned warehouses with an open format. The timber technology gives us the big, open span frame for a completely uninterrupted space with no partitions that enables Massey to adapt the space over time to change with teaching needs.


“With Massey being at the forefront of design education, it was important to have a building that accommodated different types of teaching, and ways to teach across disciplines, with a structure that facilitates, rather than dictates, use.”


She says timber offers a warmness that you don’t get with steel or concrete.


“And it’s a material that’s adaptable and useable, you can hammer nails in it, or hang hooks from it.


The environmental impact of the building and looking at ways to lessen its eco-footprint were also important.

“The timber frame offers low embodied energy from a sustainable source, and the building is naturally ventilated with central ventilation and light shafts, limiting cooling and artificial lighting loads.”


Katherine says LVL is a technology Athfields have used in various previous applications, particularly relevant in this project as the primary frame because of its seismic performance capability. They made a conscious decision to leave the frame exposed and highlight the structural aspects so students and visitors could see the way the frame was put together and how the post tensioning cables work to seismically strengthen the building.


“The college are a great client, with clearly articulated aspirations in their brief, and with active input through the design development, championing a rigorous design-led process. This has given the design team the freedom and support to provide not only a unique and creative education building for the college, but also a key contributor to the adjacent spaces and places of the emerging ‘Campus Heart’,” she says.


Gordon says timber adds a sustainable feature, and New Zealand local content to the building.


“The school is leading edge, and the use of new technology in a unique innovative design somewhat enhances the teachings of the school. The structure and seismic design are innovative and world leading technologies and the use of New Zealand-grown wood products helps show the CoCA and Massey as an international University.”





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