Building A Legend

To give the school, Te Kura O Waikaremoana, an individuality locals could identify with, Gary Pidd, Architect, looked to the lake and the Maori legend of Maahu and his daughter Haumapuhia. Maahu was outraged when he thought his daughter, Haumapuhia, had used the sacred water from the Waikotikoti spring which was Tapu. In his rage he drowned his daughter in the spring turning her spirit into a Taniwha. The struggling spirit attempted to reach the sea and in the turmoil created the great lake of Waikaremoana. Taniwha take many forms but generally are represented as dragon like reptiles with scales covering their bodies. From this came the inspiration of the flowing curves and roof texture that would represent the Taniwha and its scales. Establishing this unique identity and focus was important to locals and to Gary Pidd. “It was considered important by all concerned that we did not produce a standard Ministry of Education design,” says Gary Pidd.

The concept was presented to the Board of Trustees as a 3D model allowing them to view every aspect of the building. Since completion they have been impressed by how accurately the model had portrayed the final building.

Gary Pidd is the first to acknowledge that transferring the idea from concept to reality was no simple task. “Without the use of CAD we could not have worked out the complexities of the roof with the trusses, that looked like spokes in a wheel, and the curves of the purlins that formed the roof structure. The interior ceiling was to reflect the exterior contour of the roof and to achieve this scissor trusses were used with the plasterboard curving in both directions. The resulting contour creates a soft, sculptured appearance with excellent acoustics. The importance of good detailing and well set out plans and dimensions was crucial to the success of this project.”
In essence the building reflects the
Taniwha with the administration block being the head, the immersion classroom room is the heart and the two classrooms and library are the body. The verandah, which provides shelter for the children, is the tail which collects the water from the roofs and channels it to a rock filled sump symbolising the creation of the lake. The location of the school, nestled in the valley, was taken into account as it enables those approaching by road to look down on the school revealing the curved layout of the Taniwha.

During the design process Gary Pidd looked for assistance with the roof design but all he got was,” It has not been done before,” and so realised that they had to find their own solution.

Confident that the plan was feasible Gary contacted Tony File Roofing in Gisborne to discuss the project. “Tony was great,” say Gary, “he sent us half a dozen tiles to play with and was very supportive.”

Tony File admits that he had some reservations about the feasibility of the project and consulted Peter Richards, Gerard Roofs technical adviser, to discuss the project. From working drawings supplied Richards laid out the roof structure on the factory floor and was able to confirm that the Gerard Senator Shingles would fit the curve and provide the scale like texture that Gary Pidd required.

As the project was a 4 hour drive from Gisborne, with no access to accommodation on site, Tony File decide to build a full size mock up of the roof in their yard. “After all”, says Tony, ‘we were being asked to do something we had never done before. This was a worth while
exercise as we were able to eliminate any problems and work out the batten spacing which was critical to the success of the project.”

Tony  and Gary acknowledge the skills of Arkin Construction of Napier who had to ensure the trusses were spot on and square to the fascia. They did a exception job on the entire project.

As a rural school the complex provides the community with a facility that doubles as a meeting place and Marae to welcome guests. The area is steeped in traditional values which stem from the Maori heritage of the area. Gary is proud of his associate with this and similar projects where delivering something unique is very satisfying.... above all says Gary, ‘the kids love it. Our school is a Taniwha they say and that is a reward in itself.”

Gary Pidd Architecture Ltd.

Gary Pidd established the firm, Gary Pidd Architecture Ltd, in 1989. With a staff of 5 the practice prides itself on the personal aspects of client relationships which help establish clear design parameters. Gary’s design philosophy is based on satisfying the client but also pushing boundaries a little so that the spaces are interesting as well as comfortable. He values good planning, cost management, form that follows function for liveability, workability and comfort. And he’s a fan of using cutting edge technology to achieve these results.

Like any medium practice in New Zealand their portfolio ranges from commercial to residential projects from schools and churches to hospitality venues and homes. What is important to Gary Pidd, and the most rewarding, is to create architecture which is fun, bright, colourful and friendly with careful attention to the environmental aspects of the design.

Client: Te Kura O Waikaremoana
Board of Trustees

Architect: Gary Pidd
Gary Pidd Architecture Ltd.
Telephone: 06 844 0223

Builder: Atkin Construction

Roofing Manufacturer:
Gerard Roofs.
Profile : Gerard Senator Shingles
Colour: Ravine
Telephone: 0800 100 244

Roofing installer: Tony File
Tony File Roofing Ltd..
Telephone: 07 867 0794