It's only natural that a school campus will grow in stages as student numbers rise, new courses are introduced and old facilities replaced. But it can be challenging for design teams looking for a successful integration between the new and existing buildings.
St Cuthbert's College in Auckland addressed the potential problem by commissioning Architectus to develop a master plan that would provide a framework for the future development of the campus. The architecture firm was already familiar with the site, having designed the college's multi-award winning Performing Arts Centre, completed in 2011.
Architectus architect Damian McKeown says the new framework for St Cuthbert's College was also established to guide refurbishment and landscaping works that may be undertaken alongside the new-build projects.
The development of this framework led to the commission for Architectus to design the new St Cuthbert's Centennial Centre for Wellbeing. The centre needed to accommodate the Margaret Beale Aquatic Centre, with its 25-long pool, 15m learners' pool and spectator seating, a fitness centre, sports office, health education facility and the Beattie Centre student support centre.
McKeown says the brief was both challenging and innovative. And in light of the specific technical issues presented by the pool component, the firm invited Architecture HDT to work alongside Architectus.
"The brief went well beyond just constructing a swimming facility," he says. "It considered physical wellbeing and sporting endeavour in a wide context that incorporates the college's social and pastoral care roles. These centre on the wellbeing of the whole student."
The architect says the position of the Centennial Centre activates a previously under-utilised part of the college campus.
"One of the most important objectives was to knit the new building into the existing context of the gymnasium, outdoor courts and playing fields, to create what is essentially a wellbeing precinct. The material selections, including the white brickwork of the support centre, are sympathetic to the nearby college buildings. But we also used contrasting materials to define elements that are clearly specialised in their function, hence the use of Kingspan panels for the pool building.