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Construction process on the plans for school architects

Managing the complexities of the construction process for Blenheim’s new college and intermediate school campuses is top of mind for the architects working on Te Tātoru o Wairau.

As one of the Ministry of Education’s largest and most complex infrastructure projects, Te Tātoru o Wairau will co-locate Marlborough Boys’ and Girls’ Colleges on the site currently occupied by the girls’ college and Bohally Intermediate, with the intermediate to be rebuilt on the current Marlborough Boys’ College property.

Master planning is underway, facilitated by the construction consortium Te Tumu, led by Naylor Love. Preferred site layouts for the schools will be confirmed later this year.

The Ministry of Education’s project director for Te Tātoru o Wairau, Simon Trotter, says master planning is the foundation of a project.

“This is a crucial stage for Te Tātoru o Wairau,” he says. “When master planning has been completed, not only will we know where the new buildings will go, but we will also be able to provide a plan for construction phasing.

“We don’t decide this alone – we work closely with project partners and stakeholders. This inclusive approach ensures these important views are equally considered,” Mr Trotter says.

One of the project’s architects, Jasper van der Lingen, says master planning explores and finalises ways the new campuses could be arranged and explores how construction could proceed.

“Our focus is on ensuring master planning is a collaborative process, and that we are taking the project’s partners along on the journey,” Mr van der Lingen says.

“It’s important to talk with partners during the design development process to make sure that what we are thinking is on track, rather than presenting anything finished or resolved straight away.”

Master planning draws on design briefs that were prepared last year. These defined the visions and aspirations of each kura, iwi and the wider community, and drew on feedback provided over several years of public consultation on the long-term future of secondary and intermediate education in Marlborough.

Mr van der Lingen says staging – how the construction process will proceed – is “absolutely critical”.

“Staging is at the forefront of our mind as part of this master plan process. It’s a major project with the three schools continuing to operate throughout, so we’re really carefully considering all sorts of ways that any impact on students and teachers is absolutely minimised,” he said.

Many schools around the country undergo significant construction projects while successfully continuing to operate, he says.

Mr van der Lingen says creating the layout of each new campus and planning the staging process is a complex process that will take most of this year to complete.

“This is not just a matter of deciding where to put buildings on a site. We are considering a huge range of details, from how far students need to walk between classes, to whether we want the school to overlook a sports field, to where school buses will park.”

Other factors include access to each campus, proximity of classrooms to the road, how much green space each kura needs, placement of cultural features, shared space, public space, access and parking, feedback from neighbours and communities, and how to incorporate

natural features such as existing trees.

“Where we put the school on the site has to match the design brief as closely as possible, and the cultural narrative influences the design. For example, the entrance, buildings and windows may be oriented towards certain features of the whenua,” he says.

A cultural narrative has been completed by Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Kuia, Rangitāne o Wairau and Ngāti Toa, four of the tangata whenua iwi of Te Tau Ihu (top of the South Island) who are Crown partners for this project. This will be presented to kura staff over the next month before being released more widely, and will contribute to the master plan.

“Our iwi lands are in Wairau, many of our tupuna stories are set in Wairau and so for iwi it is important that our whānau live, learn and thrive in Wairau. We encourage whānau to stick with us and work with us to create excellent education facilities and environments for our tamariki to thrive in well into the future,” the iwi say.

“We invite whānau to talk with us and work with us in Te Tātoru o Wairau. This is a great opportunity to work with Te Tumu and the Ministry of Education to make the most of the learning opportunities for our tamariki and their whānau in one of the largest education infrastructure projects in New Zealand.”

Marlborough Boys’ College principal John Kendal says the information and strategies being used in master planning will provide clarity around how the kura might be developed.

“I’m excited that key workstreams and people are being pulled together, and that we’ll soon be able to share the latest plans for the development of the kura with our staff and our communities.”

Marlborough Girls’ College principal Mary-Jeanne Lynch is also excited about the work the design team and Te Tumu have shared in master planning hui.

“The discussions have been really rich and meaningful to move us through to the next stage. The work that we’ve been doing fills me with a lot of confidence that we’re going to end up with an extraordinary facility for the rangatahi in Marlborough.”

Bohally Intermediate School principal Nicky Cameron-Dunn says she is excited with the initial proposals put forward by the team from Te Tumu, and appreciates that everyone is on board for an exciting few years as the project progresses.

Mr van der Lingen says the next stage of master planning will further develop and explore initial strategies.

“We have a number of hui over the next few months so project partners can see the progression of ideas and how they’re starting to crystallise. We’re starting with a lot of options and we’re going to slowly whittle down those options. Over the next few months, we’ll eventually come down to a preferred option.”

Further information about the design and construction of the kura will be shared publicly as the plans develop.

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