A flurry of prefabs or other conformist buildings set in a group or dotted in a row these were typical old-school solutions to evolving educational needs. Now, enter new-school. Today, education-related architecture works to do everything from facilitate the learning experience and reconcile wider campus design to providing signature landmark buildings.
The award-winning new Law and Management Building designed by Opus Architecture for the University of Waikato achieves all these things in grand style.
The university asked Opus with Hendrik Vermeulen and Eqo Leung respectively as project and lead design architects to design a new building for the Law Faculty and to link this with the existing Management Faculty complex. The existing management building was in need of additional teaching and admin spaces and the Law Faculty required offices as well as teaching spaces.
"Our solution was to provide a new facility for Law that is directly linked to the Management Faculty on two levels so that the facilities can be shared between the two faculties," says Vermeulen.
An important factor in this project was the site itself which prior to this development had sloped away to the east corner of the campus.
The broad strokes of the project involved designing a new four-level Law block with podium on the corner site, acting as a wayfinder for the campus. Extending out from this building, two-lower levels of lecture spaces were built on the adjacent sloping campus land and then covered with a flat grass roof. These underground facilities are also accessed from the other direction via the existing Management Faculty.
And to complete the programme, the latter also now has a fresh, above-ground presence with the introduction of a prominent glass entry building on the north side of the now-built-up and flat grass common space.