education

Somerville Intermediate School

Somerville Intermediate School

Auckland

1997

Photographer: Michael Ng

Somerville Intermediate is a co-educational school intelligently designed to accommodate 700 students in Auckland's eastern suburb of Howick.

Extensive research and community consultation led us to develop a whanau (extended-family-within-the-school) concept in buildings flexible enough to provide 21st century learning environments.

This was achieved by creating socialisation spaces and grouping of facilities, and by building 'elastic' and high technology spaces to cater for both class and group work and self-directed research. Design features include passive ventilation, rainwater recycling, solar hot water heating and heat recovery.

The school has 20 permanent classrooms that can be connected or opened into larger shared learning spaces, all fully cable networked. The most innovative feature is a 250m long internal arcade or 'learning street' that links every area of the school to one grand space. Connected areas include the information centre (housing the library and computer facilities), all the classrooms, four technology learning spaces and two workshops, the science/electronics laboratory, art room, administration and hall/gymnasium facilities. A performing arts studio was added in 2004.

The school's industrial appearance reflects the emphasis that the Board of Trustees put on the importance of technology in the curriculum as well as the need for a very flexible, efficient and robust construction system.