The University of Auckland
Under pressure to provide student accommodation, The University of Auckland examined options for extending the original 9 storey Grafton Hall building which had been housing students for the last 44 years. Given its age, condition, requirements for seismic upgrading, the need for complete replacement of the building infrastructure, and the issue that the rooms were too small by current standards and unable to be enlarged, led to the decision to demolish and build a new lower rise facility dictated by the current planning controls more in keeping with the surrounding context.
The new Grafton Hall provides pastoral (fully catered) accommodation for 324 students. The large mass of the accommodation is broken down into three buildings arranged around a series of open spaces and courtyards that relate to both the functional arrangement of the site and its orientation. The pre-existing landscape screening to the neighbouring properties was preserved and added to. At the ground floor the main dining hall with its large volume and high pyramid roof links two of the accommodation wings and opens to the main courtyard.
The form of the buildings acknowledges the surrounding context, the hipped roofs of the adjacent houses, the stepping of the buildings down the slope and the two coloured brick cladding takes its cue from the adjacent former Trinity Methodist Theological College (now the Church of Scientology).
Rooms are generous with good natural daylight and no door closers to encourage socialising. The corridors and stairs are wide, with ample natural light and fire doors on hold open devices to encourage as much as possible easy movement and social interaction. Generally, there are two study rooms and a kitchen/common room per floor. Bathrooms/showers are unisex, self-contained single person facilities.
To minimise energy usage and carbon emissions high levels of thermal insulation, including a warm roof, maximising the use of daylight, and 100% LED lighting all contribute to lower energy demands. But a major contribution to lowering energy use was the decision to not provide air conditioning in the dorm rooms. A natural ventilation option was developed that included, opening windows, external shading, low e double glazed glass, internal ceiling fans and exposed thermal mass.
During construction 70-90 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfill. Low VOC materials were used throughout the building and a secure bicycle facility, with E Bike charging points, is provided for students and staff.