GHDWoodhead creativespaces 14 Prebbleton School

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Petar Milivojevic
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
    Thomas Reese
  • Client
    Prebbleton School

Prebbleton has recently experienced significant population growth; Selwyn is New Zealand’s fastest growing district and one of the fastest growing economies. It is a decile 10, full school and the only primary in the town, playing an important role as the focal point for local families. The grounds are open to the public at all hours; families use the playgrounds and sports fields during weekends and the community uses the school hall for activities and events.

Prebbleton School needed a modernised classroom block. This needed to be versatile, accommodating flexible learning, the school’s growing roll and community needs. To approach this opportunity, we provided a full suite of integrated design services, including planning, architecture, structural, building services and civil engineering.

The design incorporated best-practise natural lighting and heating design principles. This included undertaking a sun and shadow projection analysis which determined the space’s best orientation and avoided shadowing neighbouring properties. Large, solar-protected windows and a carefully chosen orientation allow natural daylight into the building. Generous, overhanging exterior louvres on the north-facing side provide shade. These features block the high sun while allowing low winter sun through, providing a high level of protection from prevailing winds. Ultimately minimising the need for additional lighting and heating, reducing electricity costs. Interior materials were chosen to be soft and welcoming, while resistant to the wear associated with high use.

Different teaching environments are created through easy transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces. Outdoor spaces are created through large, covered balconies that enable outdoor teaching and play, and provide spaces for community recreation and sports events.

The ventilation system includes a heat recovery system, which allows warm air expelled from the building to be transferred to cold air entering the building. This reduces operational costs and warms the space quickly, creating year-round comfort. Heat pumps enable heating and cooling, although for most of the year the building could be cooled passively through opening windows and doors.

Now built, the new two-story block has established a modern, flexible learning environment integrating different fit-for-purpose teaching spaces. This includes permeable internal and external spaces, breakout rooms, and a central gathering area.

With a strong form created by a single gable pitch roof, the whole building is described in one gesture. Two-store tall, precast concrete blocks have the texture and imperfections of natural timber, giving an organic, earthy look, whilst being robust enough to withstand the wear and tear of school children using the space for years to come. These are overlaid by sharp shadows from the horizontal louvres, which use dark colours and natural materials that will age with time, creating an organic look that contrasts to the brightly coloured interior and external cubbyholes. These tie in and directly correlate with the schools colours and values.

The new block has been well received by students, teachers, and parents. A fresh, modern contribution to the school, it has created a new architectural language which Prebbleton School will continue throughout their campus as they modernise further buildings.