Hamilton’s newest school opened its doors to students on the first day of the 2016 school year. With the project being completed in stages, the School has already seen an impressive 600 enrolments; especially extraordinary, given most schools establish themselves at a much smaller student count.
Rototuna High School brings together two new schools on one campus, offering an enormous scope to maximise learning environment potentials. The development has effectively taken the opportunity to create crosslinks between the Senior and Junior schools, by placing a shared entry portico, large sheltered north-facing landscaped courtyard and elevated library, at the heart of the campus. This arrangement encourages all age groups to come together regularly, while still allowing for aspects of autonomy and development relevant to the pupils’ ages, skill sets and personal growth.
Rototuna Junior High School will operate their lessons in open-plan innovative learning spaces, where three teaching staff will deliver integrated curriculums to groups within the year.
The timetable planning allocates fewer lesson changes to enable teachers to get to know their students better, look at topics in more depth, while also creating smaller focus groups to cover students’ academic and personal mentoring.
Both the Senior and Junior blocks have their own atria, intended to act as a buffer for the quieter learning and social spaces beyond. Each atrium has a café and terraced seating areas, which provide a lobby for the performance and sporting spaces, and continue the main circulation routes. The campus’ outdoor areas will extend learning opportunities in a range of curriculums.
Further, the introduction of seasonal sports fields will contribute to the wider community. Robust materials, such as precast concrete, aluminium and glass, have been used on the lower levels, while on the upper and north-side of the building lighter, low maintenance materials have been used.
Due to weather patterns, openings to the east and west have been minimised, and large sections of floor-to-ceiling glazing installed to maximise access to natural light.
A particular innovation of the project is the insertion of the entry point’s sheltered screen wall which, proven through wind analysis, will provide ideal shelter to the north-facing courtyard.
The project is being undertaken in several stages, stage 1 was completed and handed over to the school on December 1 2015 – see their entertaining move-in video here.
The next stage is due for completion in February 2016, with the subsequent stage’s performing arts and library areas handed over in April 2016. The senior side of the school and administration areas are scheduled for completion at the end of 2016.