University of Otago, Te Rangihīroa

A benchmark for future developments, the University of Otago’s first purpose-built college in approximately 50 years has been designed to meet the growing need for student accommodation in Ōtepoti Dunedin.

View_1_test_2 - edited for comms.jpg

Project Details

Client Southbase Construction and University of Otago
Sector Student Accommodation
Location Ōtepoti Dunedin
Discipline Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Design, Wayfinding Design, FF&E
Size 14,500sqm
Status Due for completion 2023
Design Collaborators Ngāti Mutunga, Kāi Tahu, Haumi and Aukaha

Enhancing social connection and pastoral care

Named after the University’s first Māori graduate, Te Rangihīroa is the first University-owned, purpose-built college in approximately 50 years. The new 450-bed, seven-level college will replace the existing 125-bed college of the same name on Dunedin’s Castle Street and has been designed to meet 5-Star Greenstar certification.

Designed to provide a nurturing environment for first-year residents and enable best practice pastoral care, accommodation is arranged across four wings and includes bedrooms, with the option of en-suites, extensive social and study spaces, media rooms, storage for sporting equipment, and a fully catered dining hall. Generous landscaped courtyards open off the ground-floor level common areas and four staff townhouses have also been included to support the college’s pastoral care programme.

Nurturing the wellbeing of residents

Te Rangihīroa’s cultural narrative has been developed through a collaboration between Ngāti Mutunga, Kāi Tahu, Haumi, Aukaha, the University of Otago and Jasmax. Ngāti Mutunga (the iwi of Te Rangihīroa, based in Taranaki) gifted the project a whakataukī, which speaks of past challenges and hope for future generations, having the flexibility to adapt, strength to sustain, and instructing one to be resilient. The whakataukī has enriched the key design moves, conceptualising the building as a binding structure with the tauira (students) in its care, guiding and nurturing their wellbeing.

“Ko ngā punawai i roto i te whārua, kua oti te uhi, he tangata kē māna e hura.

Ko ngā punawai i keria i runga i te maunga tītohea, kua oti te keri e pupū mai ana hei inu mā ngā manu o te rangi.

Kia mimiti, e kore e mimiti”…I pātaia taua korero…” e Te Whiti e kore rānei e tukia e te poaka” Nā Te Whiti “Ka tukia kia mimiti, e kore e mimiti, he manawa whenua ka pupū mō ake tonu atu”

The building’s accommodation wings are connected via a full-height glass circulation element, which also houses the social spaces on each level. As the primary connector, this space also symbolises he manawa ora (the heart line) and the coming together of the Ngāti Mutunga and Kāi Tahu.

The glazing has been adorned with tukutuku patterns (developed from the weaving and binding of materials) with colours inspired by the landscape of Taranaki. Designed to animate the building as a living entity, the façade features folded, chevron-shaped aluminium panels that reflect a kaokao (rib) pattern, designed with the intention of protecting and nurturing the residents inside, similar to ribs protecting vital organs. The blue exterior panels ripple in an interplay of colour and light.