Missions Heights Schools Hero

Missions Heights Schools


In January 2009, Hawkins completed the design and build of the new Mission Heights primary and junior high schools on the one site in Flat Bush, South Auckland for the Ministry of Education. This project is unique in that the buildings and the management structures of both schools are shared. The design of these schools is based on the whanau’ concept of arranging flexible work spaces where students can not only work more collaboratively, but where more open plan, project based learning can occur.

As a design and build project, Hawkins was able to mobilise the broad range of skills and resources within our front-end, Construction, Infrastructure, Environmental and Open Spaces Divisions. Involving a total package of work by Hawkins' Infrastructure and Construction divisions, earthworks on the $52 million project started in spring 2007 so that construction of the nine buildings could start in January 2008. This placed enormous pressure on the design teams to ensure delivery of appropriate documentation for resource, earthwork and building consents (and later the detailed construction drawings).

Construction of buildings started in January 2008 and was completed on budget and ahead of time less than a year later, ready for school opening on 4 February 2009. The speed with which the contract was completed was remarkable, as it not only involved the construction of the buildings but a considerable amount of earthworks essential to getting buildings and services underway on time.

The programme was extremely challenging because, in this time, Hawkins needed to actually develop a brief, construct new paradigms with the two user groups for the operation and sharing of the facilities and, in fact, reinvent the way schools can operate collectively. All of this took almost eight months before there was a sign off from the client to proceed with the project. This then left just over 12 months in which to design, document, construct, commission and hand over the completed schools. This meant the design team had to work very collaboratively, as the normal time lag between the architectural, structural and services design didn't exist and the design had to be advanced concurrently.

The primary block was handed over almost three months ahead of the commencement of the school year, so that the staff could prepare the curriculum plans and prepare for the arrival of students. This project was also used by the Ministry of Education as a trial project against the Green Star Education Pilot Tool, and Hawkins were contractually bound to deliver against an agreed ESD checklist. This served to focus the design effort on features that would ultimately contribute towards achieving this outcome.

The design and construction team focused a lot of energy on designing an outcome where all services were centralised and accessible for future upgrade, where the building fabric would require minimal maintenance and upgrade for their whole service life and also where the sustainable features incorporated meant that the school would use significantly less natural resources over its life than a more conventionally designed site.

The owners and users reported a high degree of satisfaction with the completed project. From the ministry's perspective, this school has become an example of the kind of innovative design and construction outcomes that are possible even within the confines of public works budgets. From the users’ point of view, the schools have proven to be highly functional to the point that the school is considered by some to be a benchmark in the schools community.