A natural performance

19 Feb 2010

RTA studio's completed Auckland University Theatres echoes the local geographical and cultural environment

The brief called for two lecture theatres, one larger (300) than the other (150), together with a larger multifunctional foyer / exhibition / function space. This lead to the conception of 2 respectively contrasting metaphysical conditions to generate architectural form; 'Landform' and 'Sky.'

The ‘landform’ houses the two lecture theatres. These geomorphic forms rise out of the volcanic geology of the region (lying buried below the ground surface). The smaller of the two theatres slides out of the other. This cave-like form offers the necessary architectural attributes to control the interior conditions required for high-tech audio-visual lecture theatres.The ‘sky’ encloses the multifunctional space by way of clouds clinging to the landform and covering the plateau below. This floating series of roofs allows a flexibility of function to occur below by way of operable walls and furniture arrangement. The layering of roofs in a saw-tooth formation also allows natural light to enter the space like sun through the clouds.

The building seeks to respond to its unique context and location in the Pacific Rim by acknowledging the local aspects of the site and the culture of Auckland. The geomorphology of the site has evolved from unique events both volcanic and subsequently sedimentary and metamorphic. This has left a 'geological encryption' seen in the stratification of the surrounding landform. Auckland has one of the largest and most diverse populations of Polynesian people in the world. Tattooing is common to all these cultures. This 'cultural encryption' can be seen in a cross-section of Auckland's people.

The building utilises a number of ecologically sustainable principles; mixed mode ventilation, recycled carpet tiles, rainwater harvesting, low energy light fittings, passive solar design and low embodied energy materials.

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