The University of Waikato’s new development The Pā has reached a major milestone with the completion of its roof, revealing the shape of the new building due for opening in early 2023.
When complete the 5500sq metre development will create a new entrance to the University off Hillcrest Road and provide better connection across the campus. It also incorporates flexible teaching and learning spaces and a new student hub and food court area, creating a centre for campus life.
“With the roof now complete we can see the final shape of The Pā emerge. It is a building that we believe is architecturally and functionally unique among buildings in New Zealand,” says University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley.
Incorporated into the design are a new reception and new offices for the University leadership team and for Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao, the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies. A new wharenui is also situated at the centre of the building, integrating what will be the University’s new cultural home into day-to-day campus life.
“The Pā will be the key space for orientation and open day events, graduation and for hosting groups from outside the University. It brings many different pillars of the campus under one roof and will be the centre for campus life,” says Professor Quigley.
The Pā is the largest capital project in the University’s history which dates to 1965 when the first campus building, A-Block, took shape on the Hillcrest site.
Huge wooden glulam beams, some of the largest engineered in New Zealand, have been used as a structural base for the development. They rise out of the centre of the building, generating its all-encompassing roofline.
The beams are also exposed inside the building, giving a warm finish and a nod to the history of the site The Pā is built on, where the historic kahikatea forest, Karipukau, once stood.
The roof structure contains the largest wooden beam in the country - 43 metres long and weighing 4.2 tonnes. The beams are made with timber from sustainably harvested plantation forests, and approximately 22,000 screws are being used to hold them all in place.
The project is believed to be one of the largest examples of using structural glulam beams in New Zealand. Glue laminated timber is a type of structurally engineered wood made up by layers of lumber specially bonded together.
Professor Quigley says progress on the site by contractors Hawkins has been positive and with the roof now complete focus would shift to the building’s internal fitout.