University of Auckland | Waipapa Taumata Rau Recreation & Wellness Centre
Auckland, New Zealand
Client : University of Auckland
Area : 232,500 sf
Program : Aquatic Centre (8-Lane 33m Lap Pool, Therapy Pool, Changerooms), Gymnasium, Squash Courts, Fitness Studio, Dance Studio, Martial Arts Studio, Circuit Studio, Yoga Studio, Indoor Track, Bouldering Wall, Physiotherapy, Retail, Outdoor Program (Futsal Artificial Turf)
Associated Architects : Warren and Mahoney Architects
The University of Auckland’s planned Recreation and Wellness Centre is located at the heart of a fully developed urban campus. It replaces an existing centre opened in 1978, when the student population was one quarter of the size it is today; not only has demand outgrown it, but it also lacks accessibility and faces end-of-life maintenance issues. MJMA’s entirely new facility will revitalize an entire sector of campus by attracting new students and retaining old ones with an outstanding campus experience in a safe, inclusive and accessible environment.
The RWC’s 232,500-square-foot interior is devoted primarily to three large programs: a 1,500-seat gymnasium; an aquatics hall with an eight-lane, 33-metre lap pool, a therapy pool, and change rooms; and a training hall including a fitness centre, various group activity studios, squash courts, an indoor track, a climbing wall, and social spaces.
The RWC’s roughly rectangular massing will run from northeast to southwest, establishing a strong presence along the west side of Symonds Street with its southeast elevation; the northwest façade faces the interior of the block, where it connects directly to cycling and pedestrian paths that converge in an underused quad. Three strategies—solid cladding, veiled glazing, and full glazing—offer a range of functional permeability to selectively reveal or conceal interior activities while aesthetically unifying the project.
As a whole, the RWC is designed to be as flexible and operationally pragmatic as possible. A stacked program makes efficient use of the site and responds effectively to the surrounding conditions; the upper storeys float above the glazed ground-floor setbacks on striking diagonal columns—a sculptural and visually bold move that offers views deep into the building and adds significant exterior programming space to the public realm. The RWC’s bold strokes and materials make for a dynamically responsive presence day or night, reflecting the building’s contemporary nature and significance to the campus.
Direct connections to public transit and ample parking for bicycles are just two of many gestures that help the RWC meet New Zealand’s highest energy-efficiency requirements. Designed to meet the WELL Building Standard, a model for interior health and well-being, the structure also employs passive solar gain and advanced water conservation measures to reduce consumption.