Photographer: Michael Ng
This is easily the most complex functional brief we have ever encountered for an educational project, with all work occurring while the existing site and all its services were kept fully operational.
We are extremely proud that the outstanding result has brought a greater awareness of the blind community and the services BLENNZ (Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ) provides. In addition, the value of the property has been greatly enhanced by freeing up land for further development.
The purpose-built single building consolidated buildings from 7,785sqm to 4,181sqm, bringing together BLENNZ's disparate 1960s components.
The internal open plan layout integrates all the teaching, training and assessment functions of the facility and provides interconnectedness. It has refined the way the network's teaching and training is carried out: teachers and students are more visible and areas can be easily reconfigured if required.
The floor layout is very flexible and accommodates several users, such as the national assessment centre, teaching and learning support centre, national administration centre, early childhood facility and visual resource centre.
A separate hostel provides a homely and safe environment, and includes an internal, accessible, landscaped courtyard that acts as an outdoor entertainment area for residents.
The building has a simple elegance and is easily maintained through the use of low maintenance materials, with all services centrally located. The site is well secured within a perimeter fence, which has virtually eliminated vandalism.