Together But Separate - The Country's First Ultimate Campus - Two High Schools In One

Two Christchurch high schools, severely damaged in the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, have been rebuilt in a state of the art combined, ultimate campus in North Brighton – a first of its kind in New Zealand.

Shirley Boys’ and Avonside Girls’ High School, known as the Orua Paeroa campus, is built around an internal courtyard with shared areas but each school retains its own spaces, colour scheme, signs and identity. 

As a result of the damage to the land and school buildings of the existing Shirley Boys’ and Avonside Girls’ High Schools in 2011, the project brief required a new co-located facility to be provided for the existing school rolls that would also provide shared facilities at a larger scale on the site that was formerly home to the New Brighton Racecourse, Oruapaeroa Pa and most recently the site of the QEII Park and stadium.

The brief to ASC Architects required a design response that was able to provide shared facilities while acknowledging the difference in identity, history and culture of the individual schools.  Shirley Boys’ and Avonside Girls’ High Schools cater to a roll capacity of 1200 students for each school from Year 9 to 13. The schools operate independently with separate staff and uniforms, this being the first time two single sex high schools have occupied the same site. 

The multi-million dollar schools are two of five schools built under a public private partnership (PPP) between the Ministry of Education and the ShapeEd consortium. Completed for the start of Term 2 in 2019, the 23,000m2 schools have been designed with an approach to learning that emphasises community, collaboration and connectivity in all aspects of school life. Students from both schools not only share some facilities but compete in inter-school competitions, sports challenges and debates.

The facilities provided create a contemporary learning environment of spaces that are flexible, functional and future focussed, acknowledging that students learn in different ways and that the diversity in learners’ needs is likely to change over time. Consideration has also been given to “hard technology”, an area where students can undertake large projects like building garden sheds or decks.   

The entrance to the schools, located on Travis Road in North New Brighton, provides a strong presence and a sense of welcoming to the wider community.  While the two schools have separate teaching spaces, co-location has allowed for a range of shared facilities at a larger scale including a performing arts theatre with 750 seats, a fully equipped commercial teaching kitchen and three full-sized indoor gymnasiums. The gym and performing arts centre are available for community use. 

Matt Every, Associate at ASC Architects says one of the key successes of the project was that through significant design innovations and clever planning by ASC Architects, we were able to provide the schools with the benefits of combined shared areas and deliver efficiencies of scale that each school could not have achieved by itself. This included being able to provide all the future growth building area and an additional full-sized gymnasium – all delivered within the budget of the original build. 

The design incorporates a combination of mechanical ventilation, automated natural ventilation and partial cooling.  It is structurally designed to Importance Level 3 under NZS1170.0 and 130 per cent of the design seismic load levels required in an Importance Level 2 building. It is also built to the Ministry of Education’s Structural and Geotechnical Guidelines which have, in some cases, more onerous design requirements than 11.3 standards. 

Energy consumption over a year is between 25 and 40 per cent lower than in a standard school, the campus building energy calculation based on the Green Star Technical Manual.  Lighting was a priority and the design encompasses making the most of natural light such as glazing the façade of many sections of the build.  Stormwater is located through a detention pond and planted swales prior to mains discharge.  Greenery that existed from the grounds of the two old schools was also retrieved – natives from Shirley Boys’ and plants from the Old Girls’ garden of Avonside Girls’. 

An aerial view of the campus shows the complex arrangement of roof structures that enhance the “together but separate” design configuration.  The function of the building required all material selections and construction to be hard wearing, streamlined and pragmatic. A warm roof is installed throughout the complex, Graham Hill Roofing tasked with the delivery of this system along with wall cladding throughout the campus including the front entrance feature wall.  The way the schools were constructed meant work started in the middle of the complex with roofing and wall cladding being worked outwards as construction progressed. The external design includes extensive use of profiled metal cladding, chosen for its stability and durability, but detailed and specified to add vibrancy to the façade.  Colour has an important role to play in achieving this concept. 

Of note is Roofing Industries’ Eurostyle Eurolok profiled metal cladding provided at the entrance to the schools that is detailed to provide a faceted façade that slopes in different directions with no visible over flashings. 

Zach McKay, Operations Manager for Graham Hill Roofing recalls the target programme for this unique project requiring carefully managed systems in place to deliver what this labour-intensive contract required with its range of buildings – all joined except for the theatre and gymnasium and the prolific choice of colours to give each school its individuality. 

“At times we had 20 workers on site as the roofing and cladding aspects of the campus were performed, starting early in 2018 and completing in 2019, the team often grappling with windy conditions and issues of sand blowing, the campus being close to the sea.

“We had a fulltime project manager that we started six weeks before commencement of our contract to review all the documentation and specifically the Ministry of Education guidelines to ensure we aligned ourselves with all the current requirements.”

Another factor with the innovative use of metal products was the challenge for manufacturer Roofing Industries delivering product onto the wet and often muddy site.  With sheet lengths over 25m, long load transport had to cross the city onto site in winter with limited access points from residential streets at times. 

Architectural Designer

Based in Ponsonby, ASC Architects is one of the country’s longest operating practices, having been established in 1953.  The practice provides architectural and interior design services for projects throughout New Zealand as members of Designgroup Consortium. The company employs over 50 people with a wide range of skills and expertise and continues to win exciting projects including most recently a New Zealand Commercial Projects Gold Award in the Education Category. ASC Architects also won the New Construction/Entire New Educational Facility award from the Learning Environments NZ Awards reflecting the scale of its contribution of design expertise in the education sector.  

ASC Architects
17 Maidstone Street, Ponsonby, Auckland
Telephone: 09 377 5332

Ministry of Education

ShapeEd NZ LP

Main Contractor:
CPB Southbase (Joint Venture)

Roofing Manufacturer
Roofing Industries Ltd
12 William Lewis Drive
Sockburn, Christchurch

Roofing Material:
0.55BMT ColorCote® MagnaFlow™ ZAM double coated
Eurostyle Eurolok 365
Eurostyle Angle Seam 285 tray (Custom Pan)
0.55BMT Multirib 
Colours – Exterior:
ColorCote® Threadbow White, Pioneer Red, Nimbus, Permanent Green, Windsor Grey, Ignite
Colours – Wall Cladding:
ColorCote® Windsor Grey, Threadbow White, Pioneer Red, Lazerite Blue, Permanent Green,
Ignite, Scoria, Poppy

Roofing & Wall Cladding Installer:
Graham Hill Roofing Ltd
7 Doric Way, Waterloo Business Park
Telephone: 03 343 1030

Structural Engineer:
Lewis Bradford

Services Engineer:
Powell Fenwick

Funding & Asset Management:
HRL Morrison & Co

Facilities Management: