The University Plaza project consists of two development stages – an initial building housing academic and recreational facilities and a separate building to be completed subsequently. The site is located adjacent and connected to the new Dunedin Stadium at the eastern periphery of the existing Otago University campus. The high profile site is one of strategic importance to the University, and an opportunity to closely associate itself with a key new city amenity.
At the heart of the project is the provision of a generous outdoor plaza - oriented to the north, and in close proximity to the recreational amenity of Logan Park and the civic amenity of the Dunedin Stadium – this plaza is viewed as a key student social space within the wider campus.
The Stage 1 building forms the eastern edge to the ‘University Plaza’ and recognises the quality of the plaza space as an everyday space for habitation and relaxation. The building façades fronting and addressing the Plaza are carefully considered to introduce human scaled articulation, together with a material palette appropriate to an academic environment, while also maximising opportunities for activity and interaction at ground level.
The unique combination of academic spaces and long span sports and recreation spaces led to the adoption of an ‘interlocking’ planning diagram (whereby academic spaces wrap around the recreational spaces) allowing the façade to be highly articulated, with a significant degree of glazing for most the façade. Similarly, this diagram permits the building to be predominantly ‘academic’ in nature. Office and teaching spaces are located in highly visible locations from which the expression of the building is derived.
The overall massing of the building is broken up by the full height atrium serving the academic spaces and by the double height entry space providing access to the recreational facilities and cafe. Each of these entry spaces has a strong visible presence within the plaza and provides for high levels of ground level activity and interaction. The apparent scale of the western façade is reduced through the articulation of each floor level with an expressed concrete horizontal frame. A series of solid stone façade elements are composed within this frame at each floor level in a manner which responds to the change in use within - academic spaces being more highly glazed and recreation spaces being more solid in nature.
To the north of the full height atrium, the building addresses the adjacent park with a series of vertical stone ‘fins’ and expressed horizontal sun-shading. These devices create a highly articulated northern façade with deep shadows and a strong expression of the classroom spaces contained within. The solid planes of stone in this location are highly visible on approach and function as a marker at the end of the Union St axis.
The proposed design uses a restricted palette of high quality, durable, natural materials which are appropriate to the academic nature of the building. Stone, concrete, and glass are the predominant materials, and applied paint finishes are generally avoided. The use of Oamaru stone is widely established throughout the university across a wide variety of building types and architectural styles, and its use here achieves a high degree of integration with the existing campus.
In association with local architects McCoy and Wixon Architects Ltd.
Principal and Executive Director
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