Te Aratai College is a rebuild of the former Linwood College in East Christchurch. The state funded co-educational secondary school was founded in 1954 and traditionally enjoyed a high level of support across the south-eastern suburbs of Christchurch. Having lost some of its appeal in the years prior to the earthquake, the new build presented an opportunity to re-establish the College as the high school of choice in this part of Christchurch.
The new College supports a learner centric pedagogy within a built environment defined by a strong sense of place that nurtures and fosters a community of learners.
Gifted the name Te Aratai, ‘Pathway to the Sea’, by local iwi Ngāi Tūāhuriri, the cultural narrative is central to a place-based design response that acknowledges the traditional linkages to Te Ihutai-the Avon-Heathcote Estuary and the concept of supporting culturally responsive pathways as a central part of learning.
The College campus clearly addresses the main street frontage along Aldwins Road. Conceived as a “community of buildings” the campus is organised around a sequence of interconnected outdoor spaces with a welcoming and engaging civic space providing the public front door. Two courtyard spaces, each with their own distinct identity are linked via an ‘avenue of learning’. The whare addresses the ﬁrst of the two courtyards – the formal heart of the school, where students, staff visitors and whanau can come together. It anchors the College in its broader cultural context and is central to the formal entrance sequence to the school. The second courtyard (part of stage 2) has a stronger recreational focus, with more soft landscaping and direct access to the playing ﬁelds.
Internal learning functions are organised with informal learning settings typically arranged towards the interior of the campus, creating high levels of transparency and interaction between indoor and outdoor environments and focusing the predominant activity towards the central spaces of the campus.
The range and scale of learning settings provide an environment that is relatable to ākonga, is engaging and nurturing whilst still providing the flexibility for the College to optimise the layout, function and future flexibility for the delivery of an ever-evolving pedagogy. Each building is based on a modular design to suit its primary function and has a corresponding structural grid set-out that is optimised for its predominant learning activity.
The Creativity and Innovation Hub accommodates the science, arts, digital, hard and soft materials as well as food technology spaces. These are organised in two bands either side of a central innovation gallery, which accommodates flexible crossover and collaborative zones for a blended learning environment.
The Learning Hubs are organised around a grid module that optimises floor plate flexibility and a combination of both formal and informal learning environments. The two-level learning hubs are arranged vertically around a central void and stair within each hub. This central circulation space and associated informal spaces create an identifiable heart and gathering space for each hub.
The Civic Hub addresses both central courtyards and accommodates key cultural, community and social functions such as the whare, hall and student commons as well as the preforming arts and music spaces.
Externally, generous eaves and colonnades provide sheltered edges and primary circulation between and alongside buildings. Linkages from within and between buildings create a strong connection to the wider campus and sports ﬁelds.
Since opening in 2022 the College has experienced significant growth and after just a year in operation the second stage to provide an additional 19 classrooms for 2024 is underway.