5 Te Whare Nui o Tuteata

Te Whare Nui o Tuteata


Irving Smith Architects, RTA Studio & Dunning Thornton Consultants

8. Sustainable development award

Photographed by: 
Patrick Reynolds

Te Whare Nui o Tuteata represents more than 10 years of advancement and sophistication in the way timber structural buildings are not just put together but conceptualised. Thinking harder about what timber is good at and how timber buildings might be better prefabricated and pieced together has resulted in a globally significant scientific demonstration of how we might build tomorrow.

The New Hub acts to reshape and redirect the existing SCION Campus. The renewed campus becomes forward facing, the activity within made public. The Hub building acts as a built interface between the community of Rotorua and the activities of SCION.

SCION locates an integrated Diagrid structure atop a grillage of concrete beams. The lighter weight timber superstructure allows a reduced foundation, important in this challenging geotechnical context.

The Diagrid is formed by a series of laminated LVL components, (Diamonds and Pyramids), reduced to six key components to facilitate prefabrication. The diagrid allows a simpler load path of forces to ground, this in turn allows a marked 75% reduction in the cross-sectional area of the LVL Diagrid members.

The diagrid is fully expressed within the central atrium space, modulating the architecture, adding material warmth, and speaking of the close relationship between structural timber, innovative engineering, and architectural expression.

A Hybrid CLT and LVL floor system is used on all levels, due attention to acoustics utilises a raised floor system, which incorporates building services reticulation. At entry, folded CLT plates define three peaked portals, one for each of Nga Hapu e Toru. CNC technology is used to carve the applied Glu-Lam panels, that speak to each entry and its iwi.

Glazing technology is used to cloak the structure in a highly transparent skin. Passive and active mechanical and electrical systems supplement ventilation and natural daylighting, achieving efficient, low energy operation.

The building achieves embodied carbon zero at end of construction, without any offsetting of carbon credits. Whole of life carbon usage over the next 60 years are 35% below those of current 2020 RIBA reference building targets.

In numbers the building sequests 530,488kg of carbon, or around 300kg of carbon per m2, and stores approximately 415 tonnes of C02-e for the life of the. The building is ahead of its time, the 455m3 of structural timber is regrown every 35 minutes by the plantation forests of New Zealand.

Smaller timber members means timber construction is easier to handle, transport and sustainably resource and ultimately change or re-use. This kind of thinking along, with the mathematical proofs to the sequestration of embodied and whole of life carbon provides leadership in allowing more buildings to be built in timber rather than more timber to be used in individual buildings. Sustainability does not mean more, it means less.

The building represents a real prototype rather than just a possibility for all future buildings and lays a marker on New Zealand’s journey to be carbon zero by 2050.

Come walk in our forest.