Mass Timber for Schools: Waimea College Leads the Way

1 August 2023

The development of 15 new teaching spaces at Waimea College led to early discussions with the Ministry of Education from the design team requesting the opportunity to explore a mass timber option.

Two high level options were presented. The first had structural steel framing, light weight steel purlins and a suspended concrete floor. The second was a timber alternative incorporating LVL beams, Glulam beams and short return LVL shear walls spaced at 7-meter centres, along with Potius prefabricated mid-floor and roof cassettes spanning between the portals to form the superstructure. Both options had a high-level cost estimate check, which also included efficiencies in programme and constructability. Based on costings, mass timber was chosen. 

This project is a step-change for the Ministry. We believe this a first for mass timber as a key solution for a public sector college in New Zealand. The design team has been working closely with the Ministry to further develop the system and a further refinement is currently under construction at another school in the same region. 

Incorporating flexibility within / between learning spaces is a key driver for educational projects, alongside affordability, robustness and weathertightness. The large 8.5m open span off the end of the shear walls provides uninterrupted space that can be adjusted if the needs of the school change during the lifetime of the building.

Click here to read more. 

Source: Sheppard & Rout Architects + Arthouse Architects

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