The design of the new Engineering and Trades Training Facility at the Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) in Hamilton reflects a move away from 'chalk and talk' lecturing to an active mix of hands-on and project based learning.
The facility provides a variety of formal studios, social breakout areas and practical learning environments for approximately one thousand students across the vocational fields of construction, plumbing, electrical, automotive, mechanical and associated engineering disciplines.
Designed by Chow:Hill Architects, the 5000m² learning environment expresses the building’s structure and services as key features of the design. Project Architect Jane Hill says the aim was to create a facility that put construction skill and practice on display, acting as both a dynamic learning environment and as a teaching tool for occupants.
A further principle of the design was to create spaces that would be flexible and adaptable to change. Spaces were continually re-assessed throughout the design process for 'loose fit, long life' principles. This approach allows the areas to be easily reconfigured, re-wired and re-purposed, supporting the long-term sustainability of the building as a modern, dynamic learning environment.
A dramatic seven metre high glass façade supplied in APL’s 135mm Flushglaze system by Vantage window manufacturer Wight Aluminium Ltd not only illuminates the full height entrance hall but is a lesson in structural integrity and design with the façade tied back by customised brackets to circular steel beams behind. The Flushglaze system has split mullions, which allow convenient fixing of brackets.
Magnum doors 2.7 metres high were used throughout in both sliding and hinged door format. Other Vantage products used included 40mm windows and internally, the 80mm shopfront system. As a further learning innovation, APL Architectural Series bi-folding doors allow students to see into the electrical cupboard which powers the entire building.
The project has recently won awards from a number of industry organisations. It received an NZIA Local Award and Resene Colour Award from the New Zealand Institute of Architects, was named as National Education Category winner and Gold Award Winner at the New Zealand Commercial Project Awards, and collected an Excellence Award in the Arts and Education Category at the New Zealand Property Council Awards.