Project Description

Architect: WSP-Opus
Structural Engineer: WSP-Opus
Construction: Fletcher Construction

The Law is founded on tradition, but the University of Waikato’s new Law and Management Faculty is anything but.

Built by Fletcher Construction, this building provides the first permanent home for Te Piringa: Faculty of Law. The building has a five-storey office tower and rooms at below-ground level, with a feature ‘living lawn’ roof.

The building’s superstructure is anchored with 300 mm thick standard precast panels and features Litecrete lightweight precast cladding panels, complemented by vertical sunshade vanes to symbolise the tukutuku reed panels of a traditional meeting house; along with natural ventilation and glazed corridor walls for natural lighting. The facility houses teaching spaces, offices, a boardroom, computer labs, student services and reception areas, as well as a moot courtroom.

All of the internal walls are 150mm thick Litecrete panels. Overall, 2754 m³ of precast concrete was used on the building; about 400 panels. The apparent simplicity of the design belies the complexity of its construction and achieving the characteristic clean lines required a very high level of precision.

The impressive internal areas of exposed Litecrete precast walls and in-situ concrete floors required significant effort to ensure that the desired architectural effects were realised. The building has recently won a NZIA Architectural Award.

The 130 mm thick external Litecrete cladding panels have random vertical surface rebates, varying in width from 50mm to 150mm, which were formed using strips of 10mm thick polyethylene sheet bonded to the surface of the casting bed. The panels were typically 7.8m high x 2.3m wide, spanning two floors, and were attached to the steel structure using cast-in weld plates.

The Litecrete internal walls have an F5 finish and being 40% lighter than standard precast concrete, helped to reduce the overall deadload on the structure and enabled larger volumes to be delivered with each truck movement.