Outstretched arms – social services and admin building offers a quiet, calm environment

Not all commercial buildings have a commercial feel. This social services and administration building – home of Presbyterian Support – reflects softness and comfort, making visitors feel welcome and at ease

Designed by Dalman Architects

From the architects:


This building, named Te Korowai, is the home of Presbyterian Support Upper South Island, located in Christchurch. Presbyterian Support provides social services for those who need it, regardless of culture or religion.

Brief & Design Intent

The owners sought a new purpose-built building for their administration and wrap around social service delivery functions. 

The building needed to offer a quiet and calm environment while accommodating a range of very specific functions: from bespoke counselling rooms through to more general administration type functions and spaces. 

The owners wanted a building that offered safety, acceptance, character and reflection to its users and visitors. 

Our design sought to imbue the building with a softness and comfort level for its users and visitors, and also to express the acceptance of individuality and difference. As such, it avoids a hard-edged commercial aesthetic. 

Anton Tritt, project architect, Dalman Architects

The large western roof overhangs represent arms reaching out to embrace and welcome the wider community into the building.

The result is a building of light and calmness that provides a safe and nurturing environment for its inhabitants.

Construction & Planning

The 600m² two-storey building is constructed from a mix of structural steel frames and concrete walls and floors. The external walls consist of a fully insulated 140mm thick timber frame wall with double glazing to all windows and doors. 

The building has an exposed precast concrete panel core that runs the length of the building housing amenity, circulation and secondary functions. 

The rest of the internal space is fitted out into a variety of reception, offices, meeting rooms, counselling rooms, staff room and external first floor deck.

No mechanical plant or other machinery are positioned on the roof but are instead housed in a purpose-built enclosure on the ground level beside the building offering easy and safe access to the plant for maintenance and servicing.


The building has an efficient external envelope with high levels of insulation and insulated glazing units. 

In addition, existing trees to the east and north have been retained to help reduce heat build-up. 

The western façade employs large roof overhangs and external louvres to help moderate heat gain. 

The layout of the building allows the space and configuration to be altered and adapted for changing uses and functions – all internal walls outside the concrete core are non-load bearing. 

The use of natural light and energy, low energy LED lighting and efficient mechanical plant helps lower the building energy usage and helps improve the building’s environmental footprint.

 A well-appointed and light-filled stairwell encourages walking between floors. Secure bike parking and shower facilities are provided for staff.

Credit list

Te Korowai: Presbyterian Support Upper South Island Office
Contract Construction
Civil engineer
Quantity surveyor
Fire consultant
Metdek 885 by Metalcraft
Lift services
Window/door joinery
Part of Forman Monz partitioning system, by Forman Building Systems
Admire Interiors
Carpet tiles, by Jacobsens
Ceiling panels
Cube by Autex; perforated panels by Decortech; GIB
Main reception desk
Kymira; plywood, clear lacquered; Melamine
Presbyterian support USI
Interior design
Kirsty Hynd, Dalman Architects
Project manager
Rangzen Projects
Mechanical and electrical engineer
Electrical engineer; heating; air conditioning
Asle Anton
Espan by Metalcraft; Exotec by James Hardie
Glazing system
Fletcher Atlantic by Metro Glasstech
Partitioning system
Forman Monz, by Forman Building Systems
Wall coverings
Etch and Composition, by Autex

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Stephen Goodenough

25 Oct, 2020

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