For working parents to be effective in their jobs, they must have peace of mind that their children are being taken care of by professionals in a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment. The University of Auckland has long since recognized the value in ensuring their staff and students are not distracted away from work by worrying about the welfare of their children. The University of Auckland has been providing daycare services for their staff and students who are also parents for many years. Their existing site was being outgrown by the increasing number of tamariki enjoying the facility, thus, the decision was made to demolish two of the existing houses in Park Avenue to provide space for a new state of the art daycare centre.
The vision was to provide a daycare that would cater for 90 children, including 20 under twos and 70 over twos – a busy place, indeed! It would be managed by University of Auckland specialized staff, who expertly care for the young children in their care. The new facility was required to have high-quality finishes, which, ultimately, would reduce ongoing maintenance. A variety of spaces were needed, including an outdoor play area, a learning centre, sleep areas, appropriate bathroom and changing facilities, a commercial kitchen and, importantly, warm flooring made possible by underfloor heating. These areas would combine to create a spacious, fun and stimulating environment, potentially one of the best in New Zealand.
Greenstone Group’s reputation and expertise resulted in them being brought in at the beginning of the project. Greenstone Group were engaged as the first consultant in order to establish standard processes and create a clear and cohesive development plan. Subsequently, Greenstone Group procured all consultants and engaged Stanley Construction under an Early Contractor Involvement contract. There was a relatively short timeframe on this project, which the design team believed modular construction would be an appropriate avenue to take in order to meet deadline. Greenstone Group were aware of Stanley Construction’s expertise in modular construction, resulting in the beginning of an efficient and effective partnership.
Greenstone Group’s deft planning skills and ability to ensure multitasking was occurring continued to be key to the successful delivery of the project. The design of the daycare was unique in terms of the pre-manufacturing of the support portal frames and the cladding sections being manufactured in Stanley Construction’s Matamata joinery shop. These were then craned into place on site. This sound planning allowed work to proceed off-site at the same time as civil works and foundations were being constructed, mitigating pressure points caused by the compressed project timeframe. Additionally, consultants also designed all work using Building Information Modelling technology, allowing shop drawings and manufacturing of services to be prepared ahead of time. Without Greenstone Group’s thorough and clever planning, meeting the project’s deadline with a high-quality product would have been very difficult. Greenstone Group’s experience and organizational acumen certainly ensured this project was a success.
Despite Greenstone Group’s meticulous planning, challenges, of course, still occurred. Challenges are there to help us grow, however, and Greenstone Group certainly took on these challenges and implemented solutions that enabled the project to continue to grow and develop. Significant challenges occurred at the beginning of the project when the earthworks contractor did not appear during the Christmas break, putting civil works behind schedule. Following this, there was a bad run of wet and windy weather, restricting the use of the portable crane and again slowing down progress. Greenstone Group’s experience ensured they implemented an effective solution by bringing in additional contractors and working longer hours.
Greenstone Group’s experience again came to the fore during the design phase. They were instrumental in obtaining options for value engineering the project to align with budget expectations and implementing the Early Contractor Involvement to streamline the project. Greenstone Group’s people management skills were also put to use when dealing with various service providers, such as power, gas and phone companies.
Despite being incredibly experienced, there are still tasks that sit outside Greenstone Group’s contracted scope of work. During this project Greenstone Group were asked to manage some such tasks, including consent applications and Code Compliance Certificate application. Further to ensuring compliance in these areas, Greenstone Group were also asked to assist in achieving compliance with the Ministry of Education, which provided the most significant learning of the project. Greenstone Group learned that any daycare design must conform to both Ministry of Education guidelines and recognized disability access requirements. During the project Greenstone Group also discovered that the Ministry of Education will not review designs but only inspect at the completion of the project. It is, therefore, imperative that the Head Architectural Designer of a daycare project is wholly conversant with Ministry of Education standards, otherwise a major risk for the client could occur if the design was deemed uncompliant. Fortunately, this was not an issue for this project but it is an undeniably valuable lesson to remember.
The end result of this rewarding project was exceptional. The vast array of people involved are to be highly commended for their efforts and contributions. The client, facility staff and, of course, the tamariki, were blown away with the variety of stimulating spaces and the high-quality finishes. Greenstone Group deftly managed the entire process in a tight timeframe, impressing the client and further building on Greenstone Group’s existing positive reputation.
Just as the children making use of the impressive facility continue to grow, so too does Greenstone Group’s relationship with the University of Auckland. Subsequent to the successful completion of this project, Greenstone Group have completed numerous projects for the University of Auckland, including the largescale development of the Recreational Centre.
Staff and students of the University of Auckland can wholeheartedly focus on their own work, safe in the knowledge that their children are being well cared for in a warm, spacious and stimulating environment in which we would all enjoy spending our days.