S&T are delighted to congratulate the Architecture and Building Services team responsible for the new Northern Health School in New Plymouth.  The successful design has been recognised with a NZ Institute of Architects -Western Architecture Award. The jury praised the care and attention given to the creation and connection of spaces, the use of light, volume and acoustics, and consideration of how the occupants feel, experience and move through the spaces. The jury in their comments noted, ’Serenity and responsiveness’ were among the qualities we could ascribe to education projects. This reinforced the fact that the heart and soul of a project are just as important, if not more so, than visual aesthetics.

S&T’s Richard George, Daryl Austin, Marianne Calvelo, Nigel Hughes and Abbie Whangapirita worked collaboratively to produce a well-considered and intelligent design in response to the clients brief while sustaining budget and programme expectations, resulting in a peaceful, safe and welcoming environment for students who due to illness or injury are too unwell to attend their regular school.  Sheehan Ngeru and Simon Wills looked after the building services requirements for the project.

This building replaces the original Taranaki unit originally housed in an old relocatable classroom which wasn’t easily accessible or fit for purpose.  The new generously proportioned building sits on the edge of Devon Intermediate School’s playing fields. Entering the building  presents a succession of varying sized spaces and opportunities for circulation catering for the students varying emotional and sensory conditions. Extensive glazing combined with a deep verandah provide an opportunity for covered outdoor learning while reducing overheating. Aluminium screens create a sense of separation while providing protection from wayward cricket balls.

The open plan interior contains learning and activity zones organised to encourage flexibility and enhance interaction between students, parents and staff. Exposed composite timber frames and timber finishes articulate the interior environment providing a base for a playful interior pallet of blues, greens and greys. 

Northern Health School Principal Richard Winder noted “the architects’ process was always inclusive and consultative.  They engaged with our team, our students and parents and listened to our needs, resulting in a design that has been the blueprint for further developments”.