Maniototo Area School

November 7, 2022

A complete rebuild of one of Otago’s most remote area schools has involved some strategic planning for Breen Construction.


The new $11 million Maniototo Area School has been built in four stages over 2.5 years, beginning in 2021 - starting with the demolition of a block built in 1953 and replacing it with a hard materials classroom, food technology room, science lab, design hub and music/whānau room.


Breen Construction Project Manager, Ross McCulloch, said rebuilding a school while the students are still using the existing one meant there was a lot of co-ordination and staging required, with the safety and movements of students having to be carefully planned out.


Ross said being a government-owned facility and dealing with the Ministry of Education meant there were many guidelines to adhere to - but for good reason.


“The Ministry is the second biggest building owner in the country, so they want their building stock to last.”


Children are hard on door handles, for example, so they had to source the right ones, and the building has to have the right acoustics, be warm and most importantly flexible for growth.


“Who would’ve thought that five years ago we’d need charging stations for our iPads?” he asked.


Baker Garden Architects (BGA) in Dunedin were engaged by the Ministry of Education (MoE) to prepare a Master Plan for replacement of all the existing learning blocks. BGA went on to design the entire new schoolcampus on the existing site, comprising a Junior Block, Senior Block,Technology Block and Administration Block.


BGA Principal Architect, Mark Garden, said the schoolis designed to provide an innovative learning environment and meets the latest MoE standards for lighting, ventilation and acoustics. The new buildings have been laid out around a new central courtyard creating a different focal point for the school.


The teaching spaces have been designed to benefit from good daylight, through the use of clerestory windows, and generous areas of external glass. The buildings are designed for Maniototo’s climatic conditions, and the buildings’ shape, form and colours are a response to the local context.


The buildings are highly insulated and have warm roof construction. Christchurch company Concision provided the modular roofing panel, which was manufactured offsite.  


New teaching spaces provide for flexibility, and adjacent spaces are connected by sliding glass doors to provide opportunities for team teaching. These are linked to common spaces (learning streets) with sliding doors and adjacent breakout rooms to provide opportunities for study or creative work.


“BGA is very pleased to have been involved in this transformational project, providing a 21st century learning environment for the Maniototo area. Breen Construction has been very good to work with and have done a great job constructing the new school through difficult times, including Covid-19 and supply line disruptions. Breen has carried out a high-quality build that will serve the Maniototo community for many years to come”, said Mark.

CLIENT:  Ministry of Education / Maniototo Area School

Project Manager: Ross McCulloch
Site Manager:
Jeff Golden
Simon Philip
Quantity Surveyor:
Craig Masters
: Baker Garden Architects
Dion Morrell, Bryce Dewe, Anton Hood, Fynn Duncan, Alan Bell
Will Becker, Ryan Shead-Howell

Written by: Aimee Wilson - Miss Wordsmith

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