Viewport width =
September 9, 2019 | by  | in News Te Ao Mārama | [ssba]

Biophilic buildings— ‘The living pā’ complex

“The project’s vision is much greater than bricks and mortar.”

Victoria University seeks to construct ‘the living pā’ on its Kelburn campus, through redeveloping the space between 42 Kelburn Parade and 50 Kelburn Parade. 


It draws on the seven petals of the US architectural framework ‘living building challenge’, which are: place, water, energy, health and happiness, materials, equity, and beauty. 


The space will act as both an environmentally conscious building as well a culturally immersive space for students and staff of the university, including the Māori community. 


Rhonda Thomson, one of the project’s Senior Leadership Team members, discussed the importance of ‘the living pā’ being not necessarily an entirely different building, but instead a way in which to “build on the foundation, the legacy of the wharenui”. This wharenui being Te Herenga Waka—which translates to ‘the hitching post for canoes’ and was constructed at 46 Kelburn Parade over thirty years ago by alumni and whānau of the university and wider Wellington. 


Rhonda also mentioned the significance of ‘the living pā’ being a space to preserve and nourish Māori culture and the intricate connections that are valued. 


“Māori are facing a critical horizon to keep on being Māori. We know that actually another word for being Māori is to be tangata whenua—so what does it mean to be tangata whenua? Well, it’s got to be about your relationship with the whenua.” 


The challenge supports and promotes the establishment of ‘biophilic’ buildings which, in essence, involve an attentive focus on nature and its impact upon a space and the people within it.


The development site currently is the  base for the Māori studies department, Te Kawa a Māui, as well as the Māori students’ association, Ngāi Tauira.


The three project visions for the living pā include: He pā mataora–a thriving community, he pā kaiao–a living lab, and he pā anamata–a bright future. 


Having the combination of culture with the focus of sustainability means that the building will embody an essentially indigenous interpretation of space and community. 


The living pā will consist of three levels; the bottom tier being an open communal space for various kaupapa and activities, the centre tier being a learning and interactive area for tauira, and the top tier being for academic staff members—including the department of Te Kawa a Māui and head Māori leadership offices. 


The process towards developing the building is currently in its second stage, focusing on the architectural preparation. 


Collaboration have been initiated between various departments, consultants, stakeholders—and furthermore, the student body— since November 2017. 


Organised hui and workshops have been of particular importance, in an effort to ensure decision making was inclusive, open, and thorough. 


“We want to build more than a building. We want a building that talks to our values and tikanga, that matches identity and place.”  


About the Author ()

Comments are closed.

Recent posts

  1. VUW Halls Hiking Fees By 50–80% Next Year
  2. The Stats on Gender Disparities at VUW
  3. Issue 25 – Legacy
  4. Canta Wins Bid for Editorial Independence
  5. RA Speaks Out About Victoria University Hall Death
  6. VUW Hall Death: What We Know So Far
  8. New Normal
  9. Come In, The Door’s Open.
  10. Love in the Time of Face Tattoos

Editor's Pick

Uncomfortable places: skin.

:   Where are you from?  My list was always ready: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, puppy dogs’ tails, a little Spanish, maybe German, and—almost as an afterthought—half Samoan. An unwanted fraction.   But you don’t seem like a Samoan. I thought you were [inser

Do you know how to read? Sign up to our Newsletter!

* indicates required