Waiariki Health and Sciences Building Hero

Waiariki Health and Sciences Building

Located in Rotorua, Waiariki Institue of Technology is divided into three faculties – Applied Technology and Primary Industries; Business, Information Technology and Creative Arts; and Health, Education and Humanities. As one of the largest tertiary institutes outside the university centres, it provides education for between 6,000 and 10,000 New Zealand and approximately 1,300 international students.

In 2013, Hawkins was engaged to construct the multi-million-dollar Health and Science Centre, part of the rejuvenation of the Mokoia Campus.


Waiariki Institute of Technology’s aims:

  • To provide a high-quality institute with enhanced facilities, services and systems to support the needs of students and staff
  • To build a new facility to accommodate the nursing and health studies programme
  • To provide a modern teaching environment which will help our students and staff excel.

What we did:

We were awarded the construction contract on a lump sum competitive tender basis. As well as constructing the new 3,500m² three level Health and Sciences Centre, Surrounding the new building we also built a new carpark, architectural concrete paths, paving, insitu bleeches and precast concrete steps, insitu concrete and concrete block retaining walls.

We commenced construction in November 2013.

The new Health and Sciences Centre comprises:

  • Multiple teaching spaces, offices and amenities
  • A lecture theatre
  • A laboratory
  • Mock hospital wards
  • A large open area which spans two levels through the centre of the building. This creates a light and airy social space
  • An overhead bridge which connects the top level zones.

Its structure consists of:

  • Concrete foundations and slabs
  • A structural steel frame
  • Interspan precast concrete rib and timber infill suspended floor systems
  • Exposed services throughout  the building  showed off the rib and infill as a decorative engineered ceiling space
  • Concrete blockwork and large green architectural precast concrete panels with staged vertical  rebates
  • Large planes of curtain wall glazing, aluminium sun screens, metal roofing and large TPO membrane box gutters.

Finishes include:

  • Decorative plywood wall linings
  • Large areas of Macrocarpa and Cedar TandG boarding
  • Whiteboard panels
  • Autex composition and Cube fabric wall coverings
  • Laminex Aquapanel and clear finished Eterpan
  • A mixture of carpet tiles, vinyl, ceramic tiles and TandG overlay flooring on the floors
  • Varying linings and inlays on the suspended ceilings including mineral fibre tiles, plasterboard, Autex Cube, Eterpan, TandG timber and pine feature battens.

Unique challenges:

  • We had to manage and construct this large, multi-level building within a confined site at the centre of a fully functioning campus. As a result we had to carefully stage the build sequence and ensure that crane access was available to help erect key building components such as precast concrete and structural steel.
  • Safety was a paramount concern throughout the project. We erected a series of strategically placed barriers and fences to segregate the work site from the campus operations and to provide safe access ways around the site for the students and staff.
  • We encountered unforeseen ground conditions at the start of the project. The site was in a gully which had been filled in and which housed mobile classrooms. When we removed these and started digging, we found the fill was uncontrolled and the ground didn’t have sufficient strength to support the planned building. As a result we dug down between 2.5 and 3 metres and then filled the space back up again to meet the engineer’s requirements.
  • There was limited labour resource in the local area, which meant we had to carefully plan and monitor labour  to ensure that, when they were on site they could complete as many tasks as possible.

The outcome:

We successfully completed the project on time, reaching practical completion in December 2014. The vast array of finishes and level of detailing required the highest standard of workmanship and were delivered by meeting the client’s quality expectations.

The new Health and Science Centre provides the Mokoia campus with a modern, high quality, functional space that makes a strong architectural statement.