Grand designs of Christchurch: Cathedral Grammar Junior School

The building's strong indoor/outdoor flow means children can engage in the outside world.
JAKE METZGER

The building's strong indoor/outdoor flow means children can engage in the outside world.

With the changing face of Christchurch, we went in search of buildings that made us say "wow". First in our five-part series is Anglican private school Cathedral Grammar.

There aren't many schools boasting a classroom block with a roof deck overlooking a park and a slide from the rooftop to a green courtyard below.

Children at Cathedral Grammar Junior have a view over North Hagley Park from the roof of the school's new junior school building, which opened in time for the 2016 school year.

The junior school was designed by Tezuka Architects and Andrew Barrie Lab and built by Contract Construction.
JAKE METZGER

The junior school was designed by Tezuka Architects and Andrew Barrie Lab and built by Contract Construction.

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The building itself, playground-style perks aside, is a striking addition to the area's architecture.

The structure is made from a relatively new product called LVL – laminated veneer lumber.

The roof deck and slide are classic Tezuka elements and rain is funnelled using waterfalls instead of spouting.
JAKE METZGER

The roof deck and slide are classic Tezuka elements and rain is funnelled using waterfalls instead of spouting.

Auckland-based designer Andrew Barrie says the product is "like giant plywood", manufactured in huge panels.

The structure used at the school is a first for New Zealand and is completely exposed to showcase the way the building was made.

"The goal was that the building would be characterised by both the warmth of this timber and by the dynamic and rhythmic form of the structure," Andrew says.

The building, playground-style perks aside, is a striking addition to the area's architecture.
JAKE METZGER

The building, playground-style perks aside, is a striking addition to the area's architecture.

Of course, such an approach means challenges for the designers who had to work to hide the mechanics of the building such as wiring and plumbing. 

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"Being an innovative use of LVL, we had to work hard with the engineers, manufacturers, and contractors to design, make and assemble the structure.

"No-one had done a building quite like this, so it required a great deal of energy to think through the details and get everything co-ordinated." 

The company has designed some internationally recognised kindergartens in Japan.
JAKE METZGER

The company has designed some internationally recognised kindergartens in Japan.

Despite being made of large panels, the construction is beautiful, with tight joins, crisp edges and perfect alignment.

"The construction team has shown great skill," Andrew says.

He worked with Japanese firm Tezuka Architects and travelled to Tokyo to work on the basic design with its team, then worked locally to finalise the building consent and construction phases.

The design is clean, even the storage.
JAKE METZGER

The design is clean, even the storage.

The roof deck and slide are classic Tezuka elements and rain is funnelled using waterfalls instead of spouting.

The company has designed some internationally recognised kindergartens in Japan.

The building's strong indoor/outdoor flow means constant engagement with the outside world, perfect for young children in a classroom environment.

The classrooms themselves are split by folding walls and the building has capacity to change over time to be used differently as the school evolves.

That's perfect flexibility for future proofing the school and for life in ever-changing Christchurch.

SNAPSHOT:

Address: 36-38 Park Tce

Cost of build: Undisclosed

Owner: Cathedral Grammar

Designer: Tezuka Architects and Andrew Barrie Lab

Builder: Contract Construction

Completed: January 2016

Footprint: 962 square metres

 - Stuff

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