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University Hall

Modular speeds up construction on a tight city site

Client: The University of Auckland and Hawkins Construction
Brief: Design, supply and install 468 fully completed, prefabricated modules
Key Challenge: Complex design, manufacturing and installation logistics
Contract Range: $7.5 - $10m
Manufacture Time: 24 weeks
Install Time: 28 weeks
Project Architects: Assembly Architecture / MOTM


In 2011 the University of Auckland embarked on a $1 billion decade-long property refurbishment, expansion and upgrade project. The project was to include a dedicated student accommodation building, the first of its kind since O'Rorke Hall was built in 1989.

University Hall is a 16-level twin tower building consisting of 468 rooms. The building was designed to utilise volumetric prefabrication. Timber-framed modules sit within a steel and concrete framework, >making it one of New Zealand’s earliest hybrid prefabricated high rise buildings.

University Hall is an example of how prefabrication accelerates a large building project and streamlines site processes, ultimately providing efficiency gains. As the site was located in central Auckland on the steep slopes of Grafton gully, offsite manufacture was the solution to access constraints.

We designed, built and installed 468 modular units, 442 of which were bedrooms. The majority of the bedrooms were 11m² in size. Each unit was prefabricated at our Matamata premises then transported to Auckland completely finished, inclusive of built-in wooden furniture, doors, windows, carpet, and prepped for electricity and broadband.

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‘Just in time management’ of the module deliveries was key to reducing the installation time and maximising efficiencies. Modules were delivered to the site on an as needed basis. This minimised truck movements to the inner city site.

Further efficiencies were realised via the methodical installation of the modules: three floors of individual pods were vertically ‘stacked’ into place between concrete floors and connected to internal corridors, bathrooms and lift access. We used a 50m free-standing crane, the tallest of its kind in Australasia, to hoist each module into position.

The modules were manufactured over a six-month period. Installation took eight months. An average of six modules were installed per day, with a maximum of 16 in one day. A completion date of 27 November 2011 meant the building was finished in time for the first semester of the 2012 University year.

Awards for University Hall:

  • 2012 Property Council of New Zealand Awards
    Education/Arts

  • 2013 NZIA Auckland Architecture Awards
    Education

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