Firth’s credentials ensure Rototuna school attains 5 Greenstar points - Firth | ArchiPro

Firth’s credentials ensure Rototuna school attains 5 Greenstar points

Products used: Holland® PaverColoured Concrete - ElementsExposed AggregateEnviroBlend®


Design plans for a desperately needed, brand new junior and senior high school for north-east Hamilton were revealed in early 2014 by the Ministry of Education (MoE) who announced that the new school would cater to two school age groups and include a middle and senior school. Construction would be a two-stage building project beginning with the year 7-10 junior high school with a year 11-13 senior high school to follow.

The stunning design for the new school was developed with help from local iwi and features design elements that relate to the geometry of the local landscape and links to the Tainui people - including an amazing basket weave pattern in the pavers selected from Firth’s extensive paving range and Firth’s Greenstar concrete mix, which will assist in attaining the targeted 5 Greenstar points for the build.

With a floor area of 18,100m² constructed over two levels on a 25 acre green field site, the new combined Rototuna Junior and Senior High Schools represent the largest new school built in New Zealand in over 30 years, and will eventually cater to 2000 students, with the ability to be extended for an additional 500 students.

Arrow International was awarded the design and construct contract for the new school with construction getting underway in February last year. Block A, the first of three sections to the new Junior High School, was handed over to the MoE in November 2015 with the handover for Block B taking place in late January. In early February a powhiri was held for the opening of the new Rototuna Junior High and to welcome the first 600 students enrolled. Part three or Block C - the Music, Arts and Drama block - will be completed in late April for the start of term two.

“The school is built to attain a 5 Star Green Building rating,” explains Tony Kavanagh, Project Manager from Arrow International. “Our suppliers were chosen through a tender process but they also had to reach the right Greenstar criteria. Lobell Construction were appointed for the concrete construction and Firth for concrete supply as they have a Greenstar mix and they met all the Greenstar requirements.”

The new school can harvest rainwater for non-drinking purposes, has high levels of insulation and has maximum natural ventilation and lighting.

“We supplied a 25MPa Greenstar mix for the landscaping concrete,” explains Greg Blank, Sales Manager (Waikato) for Firth. “There was a requirement that all recycled aggregate had to come from within 40kms of Hamilton. The building concrete required the recycled aggregate used in the mix be the same MPa strength as is required for the structure so this came from Auckland.”

“We have been very impressed with Firth,” adds Tony. “Not only has their pricing been very competitive but the support we have received from Firth - Greg Blank and Paul Donoghue in particular - on the various technical requirements of this project has been invaluable. We were able to sit down with them and they helped us come up with solutions we needed.. When it came to deciding on the suppliers for the landscaping it was just an easy fit to carry on working with Firth for the landscaping concrete and paving.”

“When designing the landscaping for Rototuna we spent considerable time looking at the history and geography of the site before a design was finalised,” says Nick Pearson, Landscape Architect for Jasmax. “For instance Rototuna has been constructed on what was once an ancient lake which was thought to be used for eel fishing - Rototuna translates to eel lake. We have used the geometric patterns of the countryside with its paddocks, fence lines and shelter breaks to relate to the various zones of the school. The paving patterns chosen for various areas of the school come from the tukutuku panels with the stepped pattern depicting the various levels of learning and an ascension or quest for the topmost realm for superior learning.”

“To achieve the stepped pattern with our pavers, a 200 x 100 x 50 Holland Paver in a municipal grade, for higher traffic zones, was chosen,” explains Greg. “The pavers were also supplied with only a 2mm deep chamfer instead of 4mm. In fact we are now manufacturing all of our standard Holland Pavers with a 2mm instead of a 4mm chamfer edge. The paving surface is more stable for pedestrians with less likelihood of heels being caught in the deeper grooves and it’s just smoother and less busy looking. The colours chosen for the paving pattern by Nick are Terracotta, Black Sands, Natural and Warm Earth.”

To complement the patterned paving sections of the design Nick and Jasmax requested that the aggregate mix of golden harvest stone, and the standard concrete, be coloured with a half dose of 330 Black Iron Oxide to soften the whiteness of standard concrete.

“We are very happy with the work Firth has done on this project and I would definitely recommend them to others,” adds Tony. “We will be continuing to work with them on the Senior High school.”

Rototuna – a new brand of school

Like all new schools being built in New Zealand, Rototuna Junior High will provide fresh, exciting and modern learning environments. The way young people are taught has changed immensely and schools are now designed to support this new approach. The new concept school combines a centrally located administration, sports hall and performing arts zone. Separate staff facilities, library, and general administration spaces were collectively created to merge the two school activities. A specific modular staged delivery classroom block arrangement was created, with learning spaces set beside group spaces, as well as separate technology, arts, science and catering classrooms. Many modern learning environment designs have open, light and airy learning spaces. Spaces are not dedicated to one activity, but can be changed to suit teaching programs. Whole walls can move and glass sections can slide to open up areas.

Project Details:

  • Principle: Ministry of Education
  • Main Contractor: Arrow International Ltd
  • Sub-Contractor: Lobell Construction Ltd (all building concrete work)
  • Sub-Contractor: Cook Concreting Ltd (all landscaping and paving)
  • Location: North East Hamilton
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