University of Auckland B405

The multi-award-winning B405 building for the Faculty of Engineering / Te Herenga Mātai Pūkaha provides a hub for innovation, collaboration, and research, as well as a striking architectural identity.

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Project Details

Client University of Auckland
Sector Education
Location Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland
Discipline Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture
Status Completed 2019
Size 32,000 sqm
Design Collaborator Lab-works Architecture (Laboratory Specialists)
UoA B405_Exterior East Facade Detail_2 of 10.jpg

A place to enable and inspire future generations of engineers

The most complex development the University of Auckland has ever undertaken, B405 has been designed around the four key principles of collegiality, learning, visibility, and innovation.

The high-performance yet lightweight steel structure features 54 modular teaching and research laboratories that can be easily adapted to changing research programmes and technologies, as well as specialised support facilities, post-graduate research, staff collaboration and larger study and breakout areas.

Fostering innovation through exposure to new people, ideas, disciplines, and processes was a driving force for the design. To emphasise this, visible engineering, laboratory, and circulation spaces have been designed for interaction and transparency, enabling students to learn from their surrounding environment.

In recent years, the Faculty of Engineering has been consistently over-subscribed and unable to accept many high-quality applications due to capacity restrictions. Through enhanced research capability, collaboration, and a capacity increase of 150%, the new facility will foster long-term growth in enrolments, educating the majority of the country’s professional engineers.

A resilient and high-tech academic hub

At 114m long, 42m wide and 12-storeys high, the building has been optimised to maximise the development envelope and its 50m height plane. 

B405 delivers sustainable design solutions through an extended 80-year lifecycle. The sophisticated seismic design achieves one of the University’s strategic goals of high space utilisation to deliver maximum return on investment, resilience, and operational continuity.

In its first two years, B405 will be subject to rigorous tuning to optimise the performance of building services, energy efficiency and user safety and comfort.

Real-time structural monitoring equipment measures and records the building’s behaviour, to support the education of the next generation of building designers and geotechnical engineers.

Aluminium sunshades on the eastern elevation form a kinetic beacon from afar, protecting the building’s interior while maintaining panoramic views.

A unique place in Aotearoa and the Pacific 

The project also encompassed the refurbishment of neighbouring university structures to create an interconnected engineering precinct, uniting previously discrete building elements into a navigable and cohesive whole. A sheltered entry foyer and three-level glazed atrium at the front of the building now connects the new and existing 1960s Symonds Street engineering buildings, forming a social heart for the Faculty of Engineering. 

At the front of the building, a landscaped forecourt and five-metre high Pou Whenua carved by master craftsman Delani Brown welcomes students, staff and the general public, signalling the faculty’s unique place in Aotearoa and the Pacific.



2020 NZIA Local Awards - Education
2020 NZIA Local Awards - Resene Colour
2020 NZIA National Awards - Education
2020 PCNZ Awards - Greenstone Group Education Property Award - Excellence
2020 NZ Building Industry Awards - Highly Commended Hawkins BBD: Projects over $100M category
2020 Best Awards - Public & Institutional Spaces/Built Environments over $10M - Silver