University of Otago OUCA Childcare Centre
541-559 Castle Street
Architects: Parker Warburton Team Architects
Structural and Fire Engineers: Stevenson Brown Ltd
Main Contractor: Amalgamated Builders Ltd (ABL)
The university is building a new childcare centre in Castle Street, opposite the historic Selwyn College, on sites formerly given to a row of timbered bay villas. The facility will provide room for 140 equivalent full-time (FTE) children – boosting childcare capacity at the university by 50%. Years ago, the houses together with others like them were mooted for demolition to provide new lecture theatres. Along came work on the Campus Master Plan to change that and what is now the decision to save the ‘appearance’ of the villas to the street – with a ‘small-person village’ tucked in behind. It’s facadism, and it’s terribly thin. The villas weren’t listed for protection in the district plan.
On completion, the new childcare centre will probably collect one or more NZIA Southern Architecture Awards based on ingenuity, subtle(?) mixing of ‘kiwi’ Disneyland veneer, concept, scale, well-programmed function, urban design, and finishing. After all, the university has spent $200,000 on the design and used award winning architects. But is it kosher to slice the bays off period villas and ‘reconstitute’ them by nailing onto new buildings? Not sure, will wait until the opening in March to finally pronounce.
In the meantime there’s no debating that scale and proportion are correct, and the design has sensitivity on many counts. Will the built linkages, with under-roofs, between buildings read correctly and convincingly to the street? Does it matter anyway, given the facility replaces buildings the university fudged and devalued over many years for temporary use? The landscaping to street and within the block will be superior. What’s not to like?
Possibly, the ‘what’s not to like’ is that others in the building design trade will try to mimic (badly) the facadist tactics – the ‘chainsaw precedent’ having been set – as they gormlessly, constructively, work to erode historic heritage values of individual buildings and townscape values within some of our better but neglected Victorian/Edwardian era residential streets. Like streets in the North Dunedin campus area where tight sections and medium building density are found; places where developers having landbanked aren’t of a mind to fully demolish. Whether this turns truly bad, like all building fashions, will depend on the number of occurrences and scale of endeavour. When you do something (was it) cutting edge, it’s the followers you should worry about.
In its favour, this ‘academic’ dalliance with facadism, chainsaw-massacre or whatever it’s called – and alright, the institutional client has a reasonably high standard of architectural design and heritage-retention – is aesthetically far superior to the ‘piss-poor’ gouges and severe ghetto-esque rebuilds now going on in former working cottage character streets, like Grange and Leith.
Otago Bulletin Board
Uni News: Site of new Childcare facility blessed
The new state-of-the-art facility will offer places for significantly more children than the existing centre in Great King Street, and will include a bilingual centre, landscaped external play space, dining and quiet sleep rooms, as well as non-contact and administration areas. All 11 buildings on both the Castle Street and Montgomery Avenue sides of the project will be demolished, with the exception of the period Edwardian facades of the five villas on Castle Street which will be restored. Property Services Project Manager Christian German says “The condition and arrangement of the existing buildings, as well as the need to carry out seismic strengthening, means that re-building is the most cost-effective option. However, by retaining and restoring the villa facades, the view on Castle Street will be improved without changing significantly.” The facility will provide 140 full-time equivalent (FTE) child places, including 28 nought- to five-year-olds in the bilingual centre. There will also be two nurseries and two whānau units each catering for 40 two- to five-year-olds.
*restored is a loaded word
Otago University Childcare Association
The OUCA has four new childcare centres under construction on Campus, opening April 2014. They will sit alongside Te Kaupapa ō Rōpu Tiaki Tamaiti (College Centre) 137 Union Street East. All children enrolled at the existing Nursery, Preschool and Fulltime Centres will transfer to the new centres. Link
8.1.14 Photograph, site view (page 14). University childcare centre takes shape. Peter MacIntosh. No link available.
14.8.13 ‘Good progress’ at uni childcare facility site
The facades of period villas in Castle St were being removed for repair and restoration. These facades would be retained as part of the new development in their original positions opposite Selwyn College. Link
18.7.13 University child-care site cleared
University plans to build a $6.25 million child-care centre in Castle St are moving closer to reality as demolition work continues. Eleven buildings, in Montgomery Ave and Castle St, will be demolished to make way for the project, although the facades of five Victorian villas in Castle St will be retained. The new centre would include landscaped internal play space, as well as dining and quiet sleep rooms. Link
13.6.13 Blessing for childcare centre
The childcare centre would integrate three current centres into one. “The concept is a village for children on campus with lots of trees and natural materials.” Demolition of existing buildings on the site is scheduled to begin on June 24, and the centre is scheduled to open next March. Link
4.4.13 University plans major building projects
The only large new project on which the university has publicly committed to begin construction this year is a $6.254 million childcare centre in Castle St. The draft design for the centre was almost complete and construction was to begin in June. Link
22.12.12 New daycare centre
The university plans to build a new “state-of-the-art” childcare centre on Castle St next year. The centre would be located on Castle St opposite Selwyn College and retain the Edwardian facades of existing villas. The need for earthquake strengthening and the condition and arrangement of the existing buildings meant rebuilding was the most cost-effective option. $200,000 was spent on the design of the new centre, but the construction budget was under wraps. Once the new centre was built, the facility on Great King St would revert to accommodation or academic use. Link
Sketch of the new eight-gabled building. Montgomery Avenue elevation.
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr