The University of Auckland is building a new, state-of-the-art Recreation and Wellness Centre (RWC) in the heart of its city campus. The RWC will serve as an important hub for the university’s growing population of over 40,000 students and 4,000 staff.
The RWC will comprise an 1,800sq m outdoor quad, 600sq m atrium, two sports halls, an eight-lane swimming pool and dive tank, weights room, squash courts, rooftop football pitch, and a wide range of other activities to support student wellbeing.
The University engaged our team at the commencement of the preliminary design phase to provide project management services. Colliers Project Leaders is working with Hawkins, Warren and Mahoney, MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects, Thermosash, Mott Macdonald, and D&H Steel Construction on this project.
The design of the new RWC acknowledges its role as the future focal point of the campus, a vital nexus through which seamless connectivity between learning, sporting, and social areas is facilitated. The external facade symbolises this, predominantly consisting of glazed curtain walls with vertical sunshades and metal rainscreen cladding to the upper levels of the building. This will result in simple, bold architectural strokes that convey the RWC’s contemporary character and unique role within the campus.
The Aquatic Hall will be a key feature of the RWC, designed to provide maximum flexibility and operational efficiencies. This is achieved by utilising a moveable bulkhead and raised floor system to enable a range of modes and activities to occur simultaneously.
An accessible ramp, steps, and platform lift will provide universal access for all users. Corrosion protection within the aquatic environment has been a key consideration in the design and pre-construction phases.
Like the Aquatic Hall, multi-mode functionality will be a standout feature of the sports halls. This is being achieved in Sports Hall One via a specialised glass floor system with integrated LED illuminated line markings for each individual sport.
Construction commenced in July 2020 and is progressing across the site. The new facility is expected to be open in time for Semester Two 2024. The RWC will provide unprecedented connectivity between sporting, study, and social areas, enriching campus life for future students to enjoy.
This project has been long in the making and the outstanding progress being made is down to the project setup and leadership along with an excellent design/construction team.
At the outset the project setup involved the careful programming and delicate deconstruction of the former recreation centre. This old building was nestled tightly between several other occupied buildings that housed sensitive scientific machinery. The detailed planning of this phase included asbestos removal, fire services separation, acoustic protection (10 levels), and walkway protection amongst others. Key to the success of this phase was close stakeholder engagement together with a rigorous focus on health and safety in this live environment.
The complexity of this building cannot be understated. Leadership through the design coordination phase was paramount to ensuring the design stayed on programme and delivered the expected outcome.
Early identification and management of key risks through the construction phase has been an ongoing focus, in particular navigating the challenging market conditions imposed by the Covid-19 lockdowns and subsequent global supply chain issues. This has been facilitated by the cooperative and collaborative relationship between the Client, Consultant team and Contractor, allowing the project team to mitigate delays, despite significant lead time issues with materials being supplied from all around the world including China (structural steel), USA (Natare pool & Thermosash glass), Germany (Lindner ceilings, ASB Glassfloor & Squash Courts).