Ara's $34 million Kahukura building officially opened
An eco-friendly building at Ara Institute of Canterbury should "set a benchmark" for city-centre buildings, its architects say.
The $34 million Kahukura Engineering and Architectural Studies facility on Moorhouse Ave, officially opened by Prime Minister Bill English on Thursday, was a major project for the polytechnic.
Acting chief executive Darren Mitchell called it "the jewel in the crown" of Ara's 10-year master plan and "an inspiring place" for students to develop their skills.
"The structural elements of the building are exposed so that students can see how the elements work together on both practical and aesthetic levels."
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The 6500-square metre building's main structural frame is laminated veneer lumber, engineered in Nelson, with interior linings made of New Zealand black-butt eucalyptus.
Solar panels generate 40 per cent of the building's energy requirements, and it gathers its own rainwater for its sewage system.
Named after the Maori word for a chief's cloak, principal architect Richard Hayman said the facility's design was based on a kahukura.
"The facade colour and patterning represents an abstracted feathered cloak, [and the] timber lining is also routed on the inside to echo the woven inner flax strands."
He said the building would confer mana on students and set a standard for public buildings in Christchurch.
"The play of light, the scent, fresh air and tactile nature of the materials [gives] a sense of what is possible in design to uplift the human spirit."