University of Canterbury Beatrice Tinsley Building

An innovative, timber framed structure that completes the University's Rutherford Regional Science and Innovation Centre

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Project Details

Client University of Canterbury
Sector Tertiary Education
Location Ōtautahi Christchurch
Discipline Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture
Status Completed 2019
Size 3,600 sqm
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Fostering interdisciplinary research

The masterplan for the wider RRSIC precinct is designed to promote the university’s commitment to collaboration, to encourage connections between research disciplines within science departments, and to generate potential for cross-pollination. The precinct consists of two buildings connected by link bridges, the Ernest Rutherford Building which contains science laboratories and teaching spaces, and the Beatrice Tinsley building which houses academic and support staff offices.

The efficient layout of the light-filled open office spaces significantly reduces the amount of floor space required, allowing room for flexible learning spaces and two multimodal laboratories for teaching secondary school. To enable efficient resource sharing and an effective flow of people and ideas, the four levels of the Beatrice Tinsley building are connected by a continuous timber staircase that links each of the departments located on different floors, providing the ideal space for spontaneous encounters.

Outperforming ambitious carbon targets

Jasmax research has demonstrated that the Beatrice Tinsley building will emit only 395kgCO2e/m² embodied carbon over its sixty-year lifetime, outperforming the Jasmax 2030 target of 500kgCO2e/m² by over 20%. This ambitious target is itself a small fraction of the carbon emitted by a standard comparable development. This success is in part due to the large amount of timber used in the building, which sequesters 100 metric tonnes of carbon. The use of a lightweight timber structure also enables the retention of the foundations, basement and ground floor slab of the Von Haast building over which the Beatrice Tinsley building is built. Due to the reuse of these existing elements, the building was able to be delivered in a more cost-effective manner than a traditional concrete or steel equivalent and also contributed to the building’s minimal embodied carbon footprint.

Showcasing timber innovation

The building utilises a ground-breaking engineered Press-Lam post tensioned LVL structural system developed by the University of Canterbury. At the time of completion, the Beatrice Tinsley building was the tallest post tensioned LVL building in New Zealand. The ‘low-damage design’ includes steel tensioning enabling the timber frame to flex and ‘snap-back’ following a significant seismic event. The structure is also reparable, providing long-term security and resilience to the University. Other timber components include timber Potius floors, CLT feature stairs, CLT façade components, timber roof structure, and timber partitioning.

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2022 PCNZ South Island Property People Awards - Southbase Construction Excellence in Sustainability Award
2020 Property Council New Zealand - Greenstone Group Education Property Award – Excellence
2020 Masterbuilder Awards - Education - Silver