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Construction of New Zealand’s largest mass timber office building set to begin next month

Artist’s impression: front elevation of Tauranga City Council’s future administration building.
Artist’s impression: front elevation of Tauranga City Council’s future administration building.

The Tauranga community will soon see the emergence of New Zealand's largest mass timber office building in their city centre, with construction of Tauranga City Council’s future administration building set to begin at 90 Devonport Road next month. 

Property development and investment company Willis Bond has worked alongside Warren and Mahoney architects, Tauranga City Council staff and mana whenua to design a building that will lead the way in sustainable design. 

Once complete, the Council will lease the building, which will house all of its administration staff under one roof for the first time since 2014.

To make way for the start of construction, a karakia was held on-site this morning with representatives from all parties involved in the development. 

During today’s proceedings, the late Peri Kohu was honoured by the group for his early involvement and endorsement of Ngai Tamarāwaho representative Whare Thompson, who is one of the hapū artists from Te Kahui Toi – a collective of mana whenua artists involved in developing the design principles for the building. 

Willis Bond Executive Chair Mark McGuinness says the building will set a new precedent for sustainable design, with a strong emphasis on mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge systems) and connection with the surrounding natural environment.

“There is true alignment here with the design influences and narrative shared by mana whenua and the actual process involved in constructing this building. The mass timber construction means we are keeping carbon in the ground and walking with a light footprint from the outset.”

The guiding design principle identified by tangata whenua is Te Papa o Ngā Waka – highlighting the inherent values of connection and interface across the development. From this overarching principle, Taura Here has been established as the core design concept, giving strength to the relationships between people and place. 

“Whakapapa, connectivity, relationships and community are values that will be instilled in the narrative of the building design through key features including the façade, lighting and pedestrian linkages,” Mark says.

Commission Chair Anne Tolley says today’s gathering marks both a significant milestone for the project and the success of a truly collaborative design process.

“We are delighted to be honouring our city’s rich cultural heritage in our new, purpose-built office space and we’re proud that we can look to our future with a long-term sustainability focus.”

Anne says having all of council administration staff under one roof will deliver significant cost and efficiency benefits for the organisation, and the new council building will add to the revitalisation of the city centre.
 
“This is all part of our wider strategy to transform the city centre into a place where more people want to live, work, learn, play and visit – now and in the future.”

LT McGuinness, who completed the demolition of the former council administration and library building on Willow Street, will lead the construction of the 10,000sqm building. It is expected to take approximately two years to complete.

More about the building

The 10,000sqm building will use engineered timber in place of more traditional concrete and steel elements, with a view to reducing embodied carbon – carbon emitted through the manufacturing, transportation and installation of building materials and components – to its lowest possible point.

The building also features rainwater harvesting, electric vehicle charging and facilities that encourage active transport options. The building is targeting the highest 6 Green Star - Design and As-Built NZv1.0 – Design Review Rating, demonstrating world leadership in sustainability.

Representatives from all parties involved in the development of 90 Devonport Road attended a karakia on-site this morning ahead of construction next month.
Representatives from all parties involved in the development of 90 Devonport Road attended a karakia on-site this morning ahead of construction next month.

Posted: Dec 6, 2022,
Categories: General, City centre,

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