AUT Mana Hauora Building

Cutting-edge sustainability features, emphasis of the Māori chiefly colour red, and flexible, future-proofed learning spaces make this building an emblem of a bright future for its many students.

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Project Details

Client AUT
Sector Education
Location Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland
Discipline Architecture, Interior Design
Status Completed 2017
Size 11,000 sqm

A pivotal building for a whole community, and for the environment

AUT’s Mana Hauora building is the first major development on the university’s new South Campus in Manukau. It has a pivotal role in helping create an aspirational place of learning in this part of the city. It aspires to increase university education locally, especially among Maori and Pasifika communities, boosting skills to the surrounding area.

The building is also aspirational in terms of sustainability – highly energy-efficient, space-smart and future-focused. Project defining sustainability goals were identified during early integrated design workshops. Ultra low energy use was identified as key.


A high performance façade with external sun-shading fins excludes solar heat gain. An ultra-low energy fresh-air displacement ventilation system provides free cooling most of the year, distributed via raised access floors. Operational savings means this system will pay for itself by 2022.

Through a combination of design and building tuning, which has further reduced energy consumption by 20% within 2 years of opening, Mana Hauora is now one of Australasia’s most efficient tertiary education buildings consuming 65kWh/sqm/year.


The colour of mana

The building’s characteristic red colour was selected to reflect the high status of the building – red was historically believed by Māori to be a chiefly colour, and reserved for important public uses. Whether or not students are conscious of this, the colour is well-liked. Students gravitate to the atrium spaces at the MH building, occupying it as if it were their living room, and the building has created a much-loved heart on campus, increasing student enrolments.


Yet the red, pleated exterior is more than mere texture for aesthetics' sake– the various façade solutions respond to different requirements of solar shading, daylight, enclosure and connection. These are unified by the common palette of scoria-red aluminium and glass, which complements and enhances the mature trees in the park-like surroundings.

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Boosting achievement, and promoting social connections

Despite higher than average youth populations, Manukau tertiary enrolments are not in line with other parts of Auckland. AUT South aims to expand local university participation, directly supporting government policy goals in social and economic development.


Research showed that to achieve this, the Mana Hauora building needed to be fully integrated into the local community – not exclusive to the university, but instead a familiar, welcoming and accessible place for community events. And so, along with two multimodal lecture theatres and kitchen facilities, AUT South now has the capacity to host a wide range of conferences, events and functions.

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Flexible spaces for future uses

Flexibility was at the heart of the Manu Hauora design; this is a building that welcomes not only multiple users but uses.

This is not a place for outdated prescriptive learning, but connection, opportunity and diversity, an outlook that’s been expressed in everything from the building’s open-plan layouts to its adaptable fit-outs. It’s been designed and constructed so everybody – undergraduate students, postgraduate students, teaching staff – has access to the same space for a variety of uses.

"The MH Building is a tangible demonstration of AUT University’s determination to offer university education to the people of South Auckland. The building provides the additional capacity to grow the campus to 3,000 equivalent full time students.  It will transform the campus, linking three existing buildings to form a vibrant student-centred heart of the campus."

Richard Hall, Executive Director, AUT South


UniPrep 2018 students perform a powerful cover of 'This Is Me', from Hugh Jackman's movie The Greatest Showman, in the building's atrium.


2017 PCNZ Awards - Education - Excellence
2017 NZIA Local Awards - Education
2017 NZIA Local Awards - Interior Architecture
2017 NZIA Local Awards - Resene Colour Award
2017 Best Awards - Public & Institutional - Gold
2017 Best Awards - Built Environment - Gold
2017 Best Awards - Emerging Designer - Mary Henry (Project Architect) - Gold