Mega build for city

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Tauranga City Council (TCC) has announced that its new headquarters at 90 Devonport Road could be the largest mass timber office building in New Zealand and will target a net zero carbon footprint for the building’s construction process.

Construction of the building is expected to commence in late-2022 and be completed before the end of 2024. The TCC has confirmed the leased building would accommodate all council administration staff under one roof.

Demolition of the TCC’s former main building at 95 Willow Street began recently and it is understood the site is being cleared to make way for a new civic precinct.

Built in 1989, Willow Street has housed the council’s mayoral and executive offices, chambers, customer service centre, library, and other council services over the years. In recent years it has been plagued by problems largely caused by its age.

The new headquarters will emphasize sustainability in its construction and use. Embodied carbon is the amount of carbon emitted during building construction. The extraction of raw materials, the manufacturing and refinement of materials, transportation, installation and disposal of old supplies can all produce embodied carbon emissions.

By minimising the use of steel and concrete, which produce carbon emissions during manufacturing, and then replacing those materials with timber that absorbs carbon from the atmosphere, the result is a neutral position on carbon emissions, said developers Willis Bond.

Engineered timber used

A property development and investment company, Willis Bond has worked alongside Warren and Mahoney architects to design the 10,000sqm building, which will use engineered timber in place of most traditional concrete and steel elements. The building will also feature rainwater harvesting, EV charging and facilities that encourage active transport options. The building is targeting the highest 6 Green Star – Design and As-Built NZv1.0 – Design Review Rating, demonstrating world leadership in sustainability.

Willis Bond Executive Chair Mark McGuinness said the project sets a new precedent for innovative and sustainable building design in New Zealand.

“Our goal is always to keep as much carbon in the ground as possible and to walk with a light footprint,” he said. “What makes this project unique is the scale at which we’ve been able to achieve this.”

Willis Bond have entered into a 12-year Partnering Agreement with the TCC, and the Agreement provides for the company to work with them to deliver real estate solutions on council-owned land in the Tauranga city centre. Willis Bond has worked in collaboration with TCC and mana whenua, including representatives from Ngai Tamarāwaho, Ngāti Tapu and Te Materāwaho, to refresh the Tauranga Civic Precinct Masterplan originally adopted in 2018.

Masterplan refreshed

The company said the refreshed Masterplan – Te Manawataki O Te Papa, first approved by the commission in December 2021 – reflected the evolution of Council’s strategy from 2018 to 2021 and a greater recognition of cultural history and significance of the site to mana whenua. The council has recently also approved the plan, which will see the development of a new Civic Whare (public meeting house), Library, Museum and Exhibition space in Tauranga’s city centre over the next eight years.

Commission Chair Anne Tolley said sustainable outcomes were front of mind when considering a new, purpose-built office space. “We wanted to push the boundaries to design a wholly-sustainable, future-focused workplace which maximises the use of natural materials, such as the exposed timber columns which celebrate the uniqueness of the building,” she said.

“Willis Bond and Council staff continue to work with mana whenua to ensure that mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge systems) principles are incorporated and add to the look and feel of the building.

“This will be our home for at least the duration of the 15-year lease, so it’s important that we get it right and create a facility that both speaks to its Tauranga Moana origins and provides a welcoming and people-friendly space for our staff and the community.”

Tolley said the ability to bring all administration staff together in one building will have significant cost and efficiency benefits, while the long-term lease arrangement means there will be no construction outlay, which will also help the council stay within its required debt limits.

Willis Bond’s record

Willis Bond has a 34 year record in property development and investment. The team is responsible for delivering quality mixed-use developments across New Zealand, as well as managing several high value funds. In addition to capital invested for the long term in high quality property assets, Willis Bond has raised more than $500 million in development capital in the past 12 years. Of this, $361 million has been committed to 26 development projects with an end value of $2.3 billion.

In partnership with its consultants and contractors, the company has led a number of award-winning projects including Chews Lane and Clyde Quay Wharf, both of which have won the Property Council, Property Industry Supreme Award. More recently, its Wynyard Central development in Wynyard Quarter won the Sir Ian Athfield Award for Housing at the 2019 New Zealand Architecture Awards along with an Excellence Award at the Property Council, Property Industry Awards.

Green star certification

Created by Green Building Council Australia and adapted for Aotearoa, Green Star is Australasia’s largest voluntary and truly holistic sustainability rating system for buildings, fitouts and communities.

A 4 Green Star rating is the minimum standard that can be certified and is deemed Good Practice. A 5 Green Star rated building is deemed New Zealand Excellence. A 6 Green Star building exemplifies world leadership.

Green Star – Design & As Built NZ is an adaptation of the Australian-developed Green Star – Design & As-Built v1.2 and may be used to certify the design and construction of commercial buildings of any typology.

Related: Farmers reports on new building’s progress

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