Te Whetu Tawera

The new Auckland City Mental Health Unit aptly named Te Whetu Tawera, was an ambitious project that looked to showcase innovative design as well as providing an environment of safety, security and comfort. The stunning outcome achieved and exceeded the expectations of all involved.

Meritec, the architects responsible for the project, had to contend with a sloping site that had a number of space restrictions including the existing roading network, buildings and site services. In addition, they were given detailed guidelines by the Auckland District Health Board to ensure the creation of a non-institutional but secure facility. From all accounts, Meritec achieved this and more with a visually spectacular design complemented by functionality and durability.

One of the unique features of the Auckland City Mental Health Unit can only be seen effectively from a birds eye view. That is the intricate roof design employed with 56 different roof areas covering the multitude of wings and connecting corridors. Each roof area comprises varying pitches, curves and angles and the joining of these separate areas required significant planning and cooperation. Wally Fitness of Meritec explains that "the bedrooms were required to be grouped into three wings per ward for each of the three wards, hence the rather unusual and complicated roof."

At the forefront of this planning was the need to choose an extremely flexible roofing material that could sufficiently handle all the intricacies. Dimond’s long run profile, Corrugate, was selected to meet these requirements. The most traditional of steel roofing profiles, Corrugate can be draped, curved or pre-curved and is relatively easy to cut making it the best option for this project. For the Mental Health Unit, the Dimond Corrugate was pre-curved and the curved flashings were custom made off site ensuring a perfect fit and improved speed of construction. This proved particularly valuable given the flashing work required due to the amount of natural lighting and raised windows in the building.

Another feature of the design is an exceptionally high percentage of external walls to floor area. This wall area combined with raised sections of roof, selected glass roofing and skylights gives a light, airy feeling not normally associated with such a building. In fact the "62 bedrooms each required an exterior window for natural lighting and ventilation" says Mr Fitness. Even more remarkable is that this was all achieved without compromising the functionality of the building but in fact enhancing it.

This project reflects a time when mindsets regarding mental health units are changing dramatically. Mental health facilities are now being specifically designed with the rehabilitation and care of the patient as the primary concern. By taking a different angle, Meritec has been able to produce a new Auckland City Mental Health Unit that sets the benchmark for others to follo

Roofing Contract: Clarke Roofing Ltd
Telephone: 09 379 1200

Roofing Manufacturer: Dimond
0800 346 663 , 0800 DIMOND
Profile: Dimond Corrugate

Roofing Contractor: Clarke Roofing Ltd
Telephone:0-9-579 9483