“The design of Te Auaha promotes an experiential pedagogy, focusing on learning occurring through work experience...”
The amalgamation of the WelTec and Whitireia Polytechnics into a combined creative campus, Te Kahui Auaha, in the heart of Wellington’s Cuba Street precinct, required an activity based interior solution, where facilities are shared across all creative programmes.
The design of Te Auaha promotes an experiential pedagogy, focusing on learning occurring through work experience. This concept naturally extends to the way students engage with the stylist salons, publishing and creative writing environments, film studios, radio and journalism, theatres and the support services. The design of what was initially to be an office/commercial space, evolved into an architectural, education model that has two defining characteristics:
Industry type spaces – what a student will experience replicates current complementary industries.
Pedagogical capability – within and supporting these spaces is the critical academic capability that enables education. This provides the flexibility in the space and is a combination of technology, space set-up and programme.
The spatial arrangement encourages these concepts, promoting connectivity to the wider studio and commons environments. The blurred lines between Social Learning Spaces – Commons/Hubs – and Studios enables students to bump into each other, encouraging cross programme pollination of ideas and experiences.
The requirement to grow, change and cross utilise all of the interior teaching spaces was paramount to the success of a constantly changing course offering, reflective of the creative industry.
The campus had to include facilities for dance, film, hair dressing, make-up artistry, fine arts, live arts, digital art, acting, music, publishing, photography and beauty therapy.
Given the high intensity use of the spaces, from dance to art, the spaces needed to help stimulate the creative mind. Cultural identity is prevalent throughout the campus from the Pasifika custom designed carpet on Level 1 to the Maori design carpet throughout the levels.
Simple wayfinding for all students inspired the colour themed floors ensuring all students know where they are in the building. This is particularly important as many students share their time across multiple campus sites.
The colour themes also assist the visually impaired, a key factor as Te Auaha is a universally accessible building.
The biggest challenge to overcome was adapting what was supposed to be an office building into a highly specialised creative tertiary campus. The design needed to be creative to make the most of the space that was available and colour helped immensely in generating quality spaces for all the courses being taught.
General walls and ceilings were finished in Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen and Resene Ceiling Paint in Resene Sea Fog (greyed white), with bathroom areas in Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom. Resene Uracryl GraffitiShield was used as extra protection for the bathrooms and selected high use private spaces to ensure longevity of the paint.
Then the pops of colour were added with Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel in Resene Headlights (searing yellow) on bathroom doors, Resene Blue Charcoal (ultra deep blue) on classroom doors, Resene Jalapeno (spicy red) on music room doors, with one music space finished in Resene St Kilda (mineral blue) on walls and ceiling and the other in Resene Jalapeno.
Exposed concrete ceilings were painted with dark Resene Nocturnal (grey black) in Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen to help camouflage the space, while plywood dados were kept looking natural with Resene Aquaclear. Workshop and creative space trafficable areas were finished in Resene Walk-on tinted to Resene Concrete (frosted grey). Theatre steelwork was finished in Resene Nero (blue black) using Resene Armourcote 221 and Resene Uracryl.
Having such a large and diverse client base it was difficult to appease everyone. The vibrant colour scheme was polarising at first but as the staff and students began to understand its worth and the unique nature/design of the campus they began to champion it and make it their own.
Architectural specifier: Foster+Melville Architects Ltd
Building contractor: LT McGuinness
Client: Whitireia and WelTec
Painting contractor: Chris Geany Painting Ltd
Photographer: Andrew Ginther
Project manager: Dean Harris
Services engineer: BECA