AUT Ngā Wai Hono

A first for a New Zealand university, AUT Ngā Wai Hono brings together Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences (ECMS) in one elegant, energy efficient structure. The building is conceived as an educational tool designed to facilitate cross-pollination, and an enabler for world class research.

213123_00_Jasmax_AUT_ETD_Building_N10 edit.jpg

Project Details

Client AUT
Sector Education
Location Auckland
Discipline Architecture, Interior Design
Status Completed 2018

From public carpark to multi-level educational complex

The new Ngā Wai Hono building is designed to be adapted over the course of its lifetime to meet AUT’s changing needs.

Replacing a multi-level carpark, the new Ngā Wai Hono building is comprised of three distinct but inter-connected components – a 12 storey tower; 5 storey podium; and two storeys of double height teaching and research workshops and laboratories. These components address varying urban planning constraints on the tight, inner-city site, and interlock to deliver maximum connectivity to AUT.

On Symonds Street, the five-storey podium responds to the colour, scale, and articulation of neighbouring red brick Doctor’s Houses. On St Paul Street, the 12-storey tower rises to the height of neighbouring apartments. Labs and workshops are dug into the ground to minimize noise and visual impact on residential neighbours.

Given the constrained nature of AUT’s City Campus, space dedicated to a single activity is a luxury. This building prioritises generic, multi-use, loose-fit/ long-life space design.  The building is designed to showcase research, technology and equipment and provide students with a window into post graduate study pathways.

A three-dimensional learning tool

An absence of ceiling linings throughout means the suspended building services are proudly on display. Students are able to observe how the design of structural elements and services are interlinked, making the building a 3D learning tool.

Students are able to test the theory they learn in classrooms on the building itself. For example, undergraduates in mechanical and electrical engineering can swap between air conditioning systems in a project studio space to compare and contrast how these systems perform. Students also have access to the building’s management system (BMS). This helps them develop understanding of power and water consumption relating to different services such as lighting and air conditioning.

“If we get stuck over something, we just look up and see if we can find the same thing... Sometimes you find undergraduates or masters graduates asking you certain questions and you say ‘Look - that is there, fixed up, that is how it is done."

P. Mahesh Babu, PhD Candidate, Engineering: Built Environment

213123_00_AUT_ETD_Building_N6 (1).jpg

Designed to draw light in and keep heat out

The elevations of the building are designed to demonstrate the high-tech activities underpinning learning and research inside the building. Externally, aluminium screens on the new tower were modelled using environmental design software and wind pressure testing data.

Blue-grey blades of folded aluminium to the north façade are threaded along cables forming a high-performance light shield. This is designed to both protect from the sun, reflect light up onto ceilings inside the building enhancing the penetration of natural light into the spaces behind.

Inside, a dramatic light reflector at Level 7 of the atrium captures afternoon sun from over the top of neighbouring structures and reflects it down to the lower levels.



2019 NZIA National Awards - Ted McCoy Award for Best Educational Building
2019 NZIA National Awards: Shortlist
2019 NZIA Auckland Branch: Education
2019 PCNZ Awards: Education - Merit
2019 Resene Colour Award