Both the atrium and the internal street play important roles in the wider school environment, too. The atrium entry creates a new formal entry to the school and is highly visible from Portland Road.
“By providing a clear new public address, the building has a transparent school-to-community connection,” says Hewlett-Diprose. “It offers permeability into the life of the school through street-facing architecture which is clear and inviting.”
There are no fences separating the community from the Portland road entry, rather there is a series of concrete platforms and seats with integrated planting, the design navigating around an existing mature Pohutakawa tree, inviting the community in.
Construction of the Centennial Building provided the opportunity to return the adjacent Towers building to its original design, demolishing a late addition that had linked across to the Hanna building, which was replaced as part of this project. Now on arrival at the school’s main entry, staff, students and visitors encounter new site lines between buildings which had previously abutted one another.
The history of the site is acknowledged with reference to the original Hanna building through the materiality and modulation of the north elevation of the Centennial Building, the installation of the original Hanna clock in the centre of the new building and finally the use of recycled kauri rafters to form the timber fins that provide a degree of enclosure to breakout spaces within the internal street.
“The existing campus has a particular arrangement and massing that confers a sense of ‘historical gravitas’ across the site,” says Hewlett-Diprose. “Our design approach has been to reinterpret the sense of permanence, clarity and order in a less formal way. The architecture of the new facility provides a clear structural rhythm that reinterprets the order of the wider King’s School built environment.”
And now, for the first time, all the school’s buildings are well connected. This was achieved by the use of bridges linking the new facility to existing buildings, some extending the lines of its internal street.