Taranaki Renal Unit 3 1

Taranaki Base Hospital

Warren & Mahoney

3. Commercial & public building design award

Photographed by: 
Jono Parker

Te Huhi Raupo is new 806m2 renal dialysis clinic at the Taranaki Base Hospital, is an exemplary climate-conscious timber building delivering high quality care for patients and their whanau. The facility houses 12 dialysis treatment chairs, consultation and training rooms and a reverse osmosis water treatment plant. With zero energy design, solar panels and locally-sourced mass timber, the building shifts expectations of what is possible in sustainable healthcare architecture.

The project aspiration was to deliver an exceptional user experience in an economic and low environmental impact building. A bespoke sustainability framework was developed with two primary strategies: zero energy to reduce operational costs and lifecycle impact; and the use of local timber. The client expressed interest in local Taranaki pine structure to reduce costs and embodied carbon impact.

The design is a bridge-like structure, utilising a Woodspan parallel laminated timber (PLT) platform, with driven timber pole foundations and lightweight timber framed roof and wall structure, to span a natural valley between the hospital and a residential street. This solution met a need for single level access from both sides of the site, whilst achieving a northern orientation per passive design principles and maximising ocean views.

The design aims to feel like a retreat sitting sympathetically amongst native planting between Mount Taranaki and the Tasman Sea. Reclaimed Australian Tallowwood (Eucalyptus Microcorys) cladding, boardwalk, canopy posts and balustrades achieve a natural, non-clinical aesthetic with a positive carbon impact. The hardwood is inherently resilient, with class 1 durability and a 40-year warranty. The rich, character-filled timber offers a warm, generous aesthetic and is befitting of the residential context.

The gifted name ‘Te Huhi Raupo’ references native bullrush - the pole foundations resemble Raupo stalks, supporting the structure and enabling the site’s ecological regeneration. Design elements like the boardwalk anti-slip patterns and carved American ash reception counter, reflect a cultural narrative which acknowledges water as the source of life.

Inside the clinic, birch plywood linings and European oak flooring create a warm and welcoming “home away from home” for regular patients. The unit provides an optimal environment for patient wellbeing through carefully considered design, natural daylight, and high-quality finishes.

The PLT structure added value as a structurally efficient way to span the valley, with fast installation and reduced labour costs. The team worked with industry to develop compliant fire collars, removing barriers to further mass timber construction – a “first of its kind” innovative solution for healthcare buildings in New Zealand.

The use of timber also resulted in significant carbon benefits. The building has an upfront embodied carbon of only 324kgCo2e-/m2. After accounting for carbon-sequestering materials, including the buildings timber which is 95% FSC certified or reclaimed, the building has net negative upfront and lifecylce carbon impact.

The Renal Unit showcases innovative timber design to provide an efficient public healthcare building with a generous aesthetic, exceptional user experience, and reduced lifecycle impact. It is a global leader in energy efficient, low carbon design and demonstrates that superior sustainability outcomes are viable for healthcare architecture.