Otago Corrections Facility Hero

Otago Corrections Facility: setting a benchmark for fast-track, greenfields projects

Between 1997 and 2007 the Department of Corrections undertook a major construction programme: The Regional Prisons Development Programme. The $1 billion programme included turnkey delivery of new prisons in Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Otago to meet forecast growth in the prison population. The new facilities were large scale, complex and technically demanding projects involving multiple and diverse stakeholders. Hawkins were a key part of the collaborative team which worked on the Otago Corrections Facility project.

The Department of Corrections’ aims:

  • To build several new regional prisons to meet an expected growth in prisoner numbers
  • To implement the Department’s Regional Prisons Policy, developed in 1997, which suggests that locating prisoners as near to their home area as possible improves the chances of successful reintegration into society and reduces re-offending rates.

What we did:

We were part of the team, comprising 15 parties, operating under a collaborative working arrangement to deliver this $176M project, 50km south of Dunedin. We joined with the client under a “pain/gain” commercial model around a vigorous turnout cost analysis operated under alliancing principles of “best for project.”

The Otago Corrections Facility (OCF) is a 335-bed corrections unit accommodating male prisoners ranging from low to high-medium security and employing 200 staff.

The project involved the construction of 27 individual buildings. It’s been designed to an international standard and includes features that should deliver effective rehabilitation, safety and security outcomes. As a secure, open style campus arrangement, separate units are set within a large open space with accommodation units clustered around centrally located services such as kitchens, industry areas and programme rooms. The facility is surrounded by a highly secure perimeter fence with a single controlled point of entry.

Unique challenges:

  • A fast track design and build solution always creates pressure at all levels. With more than 4,000 A0 sized drawings, design output was this project's largest initial challenge. The majority of the buildings were constructed from precast panels that came from a range of different pre-cast yards.
  • The division of the project between a number of subcontractors called for stringent QA systems and checks throughout. The site also had to be left with zero defects.
  • It was vital to coordinate all trade services as the level and quality of installation on these projects varies from normal trade practices because of the type of end user environment. With 650 trades people on site this was no small task. Over 4,200 concrete panels were cast and erected, there were complex electrical and mechanical installations and all structures had to meet the exacting Department of Corrections standards and requirements.

The outcome:

The project was handed over early, fully-commissioned, below budget and with zero defects, at the end of March 2007. This was only 27 months after work on site started and 28 months after consents were granted.

The facility opened in early May 2007. It provides three rehabilitation programmes. The Medium Intensity Rehabilitation Programme is designed for prisoners in the middle risk range – those not considered high risk but still enough of a risk to warrant rehabilitation. The Short Rehabilitation Programme is a brief rehabilitation programme aimed at a smaller number of prisoners who require rehabilitation but do not have enough time in their sentence to complete a longer programme. OCF also has a Drug Treatment Unit for prisoners with drug and alcohol problems.

The Otago Corrections Facility project set a benchmark for fast-track, greenfields projects.