The new Nga Wai Hono (WZ) building is a mega-tool for learning. AUT’s aspiration was for a game-changing new environment designed as a complete kit-of-parts for students in Engineering and Computer and Mathematical Sciences. Part of AUT’s campus of design-led learning and research, the new building stitches into existing structures creating a super-sized facility to enable greater interaction and visibility between the schools of ECMS, Art and Design, and Applied Sciences. The new building blends flexible and adaptable computer learning and laboratory environments, project studios, wet and dry making spaces and allows greater access to a range of new and existing workshops and social collaborative spaces where students, staff and industry can all rub shoulders.
The building is designed to function as a three-dimensional learning tool for students; the building’s raw internal structure and electrical and mechanical services are on display and in an interactive project studio, students can experiment with and compare, alternative building systems.
The design and material palette are expressive of the building’s purpose. The St Pauls Street north façade of the building utilises advance engineering and computer modelling to create a cable tensioned folded aluminium screen which minimises sunlight and maximises daylight with the minimum amount of material. The atrium ceiling has individually angled, polished stainless steel reflectors throwing both natural and LED lighting down through the atrium without the need for any light fittings in hard to access positions in the atrium itself. Meeting rooms and offices are simple plywood boxes which float within the exposed concrete shell to articulate the flexible studio spaces.
The project builds on the successes of AUT’s Sir Paul Reeves building opened five years ago, providing ample social collaborative space wrapping every level of the 12-storey atrium stair. The building contributes to a connected campus which stitches into the city and provides a new gateway into the campus alongside a new laneway, café and exhibition and event space on the busy public transport artery of Symonds Street.