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Ryman’s re-use plans for Karori campus buildings altered

Ryman’s re-use plans for Karori campus buildings altered for safety

Ryman Healthcare purchased the former Wellington Teachers’ Training College campus from Victoria University in late 2017.

Since then, Ryman has been developing the village design to ensure heritage features on the site are retained wherever possible.

Initial designs for the comprehensive care retirement village aimed to retain a number of the former teacher’s college buildings known as the ‘quad buildings.’

Ryman asked industry leading structural engineering firms, Mitchell Vranjes and Simpson Gumpertz & Heger to undertake rigorous structural engineering investigations of the quad buildings as part of the design process.

Based on the advice of the engineering experts, Ryman intends to retain three buildings, including the Allen Ward VC Hall, the Tennant Block and the Oldershaw musical Octagon, within the new retirement village.

These buildings can be safely upgraded without materially compromising heritage values. This means the public view of the buildings from Donald Street will be largely unchanged.

However, the experts concluded that the Waghorn and Gray buildings cannot practically and safely be upgraded for future residents and staff.

Any attempt to retrofit the buildings would also put construction workers at unacceptable risk.

Ryman acknowledges the historic values that the campus holds and so has also been working with heritage specialist DPA Architects to formulate designs for the new village which will retain strong connections with the past.

The village operator also thought it was a nice quirk of history that the site built for the education of baby boomers in the 1960s was now being converted into a different use for them in the next phase of this site’s history.

Ryman Healthcare’s Chief Executive Gordon MacLeod said the revised plans meant three of the significant buildings were still able to be retained.

“We made every effort to keep the Waghorn and Gray buildings, but Ryman is not prepared to put residents or staff at risk.

“We’re retaining three buildings with significant heritage values, and the team has come up with a sensitive design for the replacement buildings which we think will fit well with the character of the site.’’

Ryman will continue to talk to the community about the new plans for the site.

Ryman will also hold further community drop in days to present the updated plans in mid-November.

Wellington has an ageing population in line with the rest of New Zealand. The number of people aged over 75 is set to more than double over the next 30 years.

The village will include independent living options as well as resthome, hospital and dementia level care on site.


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