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Te Raekura Redcliffs School


It was really important for the school that the design reflected this rich history and cultural ties and to be sympathetic to the coastal landscape setting.

After the June 2011 earthquakes the original Redcliffs School site was deemed unsafe due to the potential danger posed by the cliffs behind the school. This prevented the staff and pupils ever returning to the Main Road location. The resilient school moved to a nearby suburb and temporarily worked out of van Asch Deaf Education Centre for nine years, until being welcomed home into their new school Te Raekura Redcliffs – back in the heart of Redcliffs and the community.

Te Raekura Redcliffs School

The students, staff, board of trustees and community have been fighting for their new school from the day they were forced to leave. In 2015 after four years of learning in limbo the Minister of Education proposed to close the school permanently. This decision was met with a battle of petitions, letters and submissions with school visits to parliament – eventually it was agreed the school would not close and would move to a new location at Redcliffs Park across the road from the original site.

Redcliffs School deck

The school had seven years to develop a thorough and concise brief that enabled a collaborative relationship between the school and Tennent Brown Architects. The site has a rich and deep history which meant every square metre of site that was to be touched was to archeologically investigated. Many Moa bones were found along with Māori artefacts. Aware that the site had a rich history, archaeological investigations were started well in advance of construction to avoid delays. The findings were incredible – so many Moa bones and artefacts were found that the school was gifted a near intact Moa.

Colourful school exterior

Brown school walkway

It was really important for the school that the design reflected this rich history and cultural ties and to be sympathetic to the coastal landscape setting.

The school sits between the famous Te Raekura (red cliffs) and the Te Ihutai (the Avon /Heathcote estuary). Due to site constraints the buildings needed to be elevated to avoid flooding issues. ‘Boatsheds’ were designed with ramps and stairs connecting them to the ground. It was important that these boatsheds had a relationship with the estuary and were not perceived to be an afterthought. They were painted in bright, bold and colourful hues taking inspiration from the native birds Tūi and Kererū.

Green, blue, and white school exterior

The first boatshed is finished in Resene Quarter Heathered Grey, Resene Stromboli, Resene Moody Lavender, Resene Kombi, Resene Half Smalt Blue, Resene Half Pohutukawa and Sandstone Grey, in Resene Lumbersider low sheen waterborne paint on walls and Resene Sonyx 101 on soffits. The second boatshed is painted in Resene Half Robin Egg Blue, Resene Viridian Green, Resene Paradise, Resene Shadowy Blue, Resene Double Sea Fog and Resene Quarter Crisp Green.

School common area

School gymnasium

The larger ‘Main building’ is very dominant on the site, so was painted a mix of neutral colours – Resene Lumbersider in Resene Double Albescent White and Resene Quarter Heathered Grey – with recesses painted with feature pops of colour using Resene Moody Lavender, Resene Viridian Green and Resene Sorrell Brown. Soffits were finished in Resene Sonyx 101 semi-gloss waterborne paint in Sandstone Grey with feature soffits in Resene Viridian Green and Resene Sorrell Brown. Exterior precast concrete panels were finished in Resene Uracryl GraffitiShield.

Redcliffs school - colourful interior

The landscape is fun and playful with pops of colours using Resene Toto, Resene Green Leaf, Resene Sunbaked and Resene Pirate Gold amongst the Resene Waterborne Woodsman stained finish of Resene Iroko on the deck screening and Resene Smokey Ash on the deck poles.

Sheltered school walkway

Light school hallway

The colour extends into the interior finished in Resene Zylone Sheen in Resene Triple Sea Fog with feature areas in Resene Foggy Grey, Resene Smoky Green, Resene Grain Brown, Resene Double Sea Fog, Resene Half Heathered Grey and feature doors in Resene Lustacryl tinted to Resene Powder Blue, Resene Quarter Robin Egg Blue, Resene Summer Green, Resene Grain Brown, Resene Sunbaked, Resene Entourage, Resene Double Blanc.

Redcliffs school - entry walkway

Redcliffs school - playground

Covid-19 threw a spanner in the works. The contractors were two weeks out from finishing the school before Level 4 lockdown. Naturally at that stage of the project they were throwing in the kitchen sink and had every man and his dog were there helping to finish the project. With restrictions after level 4, the site was split into zones – you were only allowed in one zone per day to avoid any potential cross contamination. The project was completed two days before the school moved in and five days before the grand opening. The contractors did an amazing job of moving the school into their new home, while completing the buildings in such a tight timeframe.

Resene Sunbaked

Architectural specifier: Tennent Brown Architects
Building contractor: Naylor Love Construction
Client: Ministry of Education
Interior designer: Tennent Brown Architects
Landscape architects: Paul Roper-Gee and Julie Greenslade, Canopy Landscape Architects
Painting contractor: Cladtex Painting Ltd
Project manager: Tom Rainer, The Building Intelligence Group
Photographer: Frank Visser
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2020

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