University of Otago Dental School Wins NZIA Southern Branch Education Award

The Dental School redevelopment at Te Whare Wananga o Otāgo / University of Otago has won the Education category at NZIA’s Southern Architecture Awards.

The University’s goal for this project was to create a world-class facility for dental education and learning while providing a trusted public service. In addition to 8000m² of new clinical space, teaching capacity has quadrupled from 51 to 218 dental chairs, accommodating up to 450 students per year. To achieve this, our design encompassed the refurbishment of the school’s much loved Walsh Building, carefully preserving the architectural authenticity of this 1960s modernist gem, which remains the ‘front door’ of the school.

Jury citation:The revitalisation of this existing modernist building acknowledges its pedigree by replicating the geometry of the original curtain wall in a new street façade, while retaining the original facing into the new atrium. This atrium, which inserts itself full-height between the existing building and new extension, floods daylight into both interiors. Bridges across the atrium at all levels allow orientation and connection between the different parts of the school, while enabling informal chance encounters. Intense white surfaces further enhance the brilliance of the interior, while also recalling the ‘whiter than white’ toothpaste commercials of the past.