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Howick Intermediate School required a new building to house the administration functions for a growing school, and a new staffroom with meeting room facilities as well as new ablution and sick-bay facilities for the children. The brief asked for a new “front” to the school that would reflect ideas of quality and permanence, and of an “upright and responsible citizen”. And in simply practical terms, it needed to signal entry into what was previously a confused school gateway. 

The existing school was built on two axes reflecting the two boundary roads that join at the new building. The new plan reflects this. The building layout is simple and coherent. The administration area – including reception, waiting, senior management team and staff offices – is located at the front of the lower level. An internal glazed street separates this from the new ablutions and sickbay. This internal street provides student access to reception without intruding on the more public areas.

Upstairs is the staff area, including meeting and computer rooms, as well as associated ablutions. The staff room position reflects the school’s desire to have them slightly removed from the school proper. 

The client wanted the building to reflect something of the school’s history and its context including Maori kainga and the early Europeans – the Fencibles, retired English and Irish soldiers settled in the area to form a protective unit. The juxtaposition of solid elements with slatted screens reflects Maori and European approaches to fortification and gateways, reinforcing the school’s sense of unity and controlling and directing its engagement with the wider community.