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Media Backgrounder: Population Health Complex

June 8 2004

Media Backgrounder: Population Health Complex

The Population Health Complex at The University of Auckland’s Tamaki Campus is a distinctive structure that works with its surrounding, to create a unique environment promoting collaboration.

Sustainability is an integral part of the design, with the building boasting energy efficient heating and lighting systems.

“The integrated and sustainable design philosophy of the Population Health Complex is the result of close collaboration between the architect, structural engineer and services engineer from the early stages of design till completion,” says Patrick Clifford, from Architectus Auckland, the architects for the complex.

Architectural, structural and service elements fulfil multiple roles such as providing a high level of passive environmental controls. The design approach includes:

A layered façade comprising fins, columns, overhangs and sunshades which facilitate good shading and reduce solar gain. A highly insulated enclosure that provides twice the amount of insulation required by the building code. A building plan form that allows for good levels of natural light and ventilation thus reducing the requirements for artificial lighting and air-conditioning. Utilisation of the thermal mass of the exposed structural floor system to reduce night-time cooling in winter and encourage pre-cooling in summer. Hollow concrete floor beam units, which are used as an efficient air distribution system in mechanically ventilated and air-conditioned areas. Use of, where possible, materials that stem from sustainable resources or materials that can easily be recycled.

“In total the implementation of the sustainable design features reduces the building’s heating, cooling and electricity demands and assists in providing a stimulating and healthy working environment for the occupants. These reductions are expected to be in the order of 30 to 40 percent and will be monitored in follow up studies as the building becomes fully operational,” says Mr Clifford.

Special attention has also been given to the landscape design with plants like Bidibidi, Honeysuckle, Nikau Palm and Karaka featured in a medicinal garden on the Morrin Road side of the building.

Maori and Pacific Island influences can be seen throughout the building thanks to the efforts of cultural design advisor Rewi Thompson, who collaborated with Architectus Auckland and provided input into the organisation of the building and its use for Maori ceremony and protocol, and assisted in the selection of materials.

A number of Maori and Pacific Island artists were commissioned to create special artworks for the building and courtyard. The artists include Lonnie Hutchinson, Ani O’Neill and Glen Wolfgramm.

The Atrium is a centrepiece of the complex, filling the interior with light and air and links to all levels creating a community feel. A sense of community is further enhanced by a central courtyard and café.

The design incorporates a high degree of flexibility to accommodate innovation in technology, teaching and faculty organisation. The intentional use of an open floor plan - a building layout that is uncommon at The University of Auckland – is expected to enhance communication.

The first floor of the building emphasises the School’s mission to be of service to the community with four specialist clinics, including Audiology, Optometry, Occupational Medicine and Speech Language Therapy clinics. Leading practitioners provide world-class treatment at affordable prices for the public, while at the same time training and supervising new health professionals.

The main teaching facilities are located on Level 2 and include a 100-seat function room, three 60-seat seminar rooms, a 40-seat seminar room, and a 40-seat computer lab. Research suites are located on levels three and four and will be used to nurture the exchange of information and ideas. Students enrolled in the School of Population Health, and in the Schools of Optometry, Pharmacy, Nursing, and Occupational Medicine are expected to benefit from the new facilities.


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