University hall’s modular construction saves time and money


The new hall boosts the University’s fully catered accommodation by more than 60%, and will open to students in early 2012.
“There is not a lot of modular building in New Zealand, and certainly nothing on this scale,” University property services director Peter Fehl says.
“Not only is building faster, safer and easier than conventional methods with fewer workers required on site, but it is cheaper with better quality control,” he says.

The prefabricated timber room pods, comprising 429 single bedrooms, 13 study pods and 13 double bedrooms for residential assistants, sit within a steel and concrete framework.
Manufactured by Registered Master Builders Federation member Stanley Group in Matamata, they were painted, fitted out with windows, doors, carpets and wooden furniture, prepared for electricity and computer links, and shrink-wrapped.

From late January they were taken to Auckland on truck and trailer units, lifted onto concrete floors by crane and stacked vertically three high between each concrete floor.
Suspended timber floors were then constructed to connect all the rooms to corridors, bathrooms and lifts.
The 50-metre free-standing crane, the tallest of its kind in Australasia, was used to hoist each module into position. Latterly, modules were inserted at the rate of nine a day.

Some 429 of the bedrooms are 12.5 sq m in size, and there are 13 larger bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. Each of the 13 student accommodation floors has a central common room, study room, kitchenette and shared bathrooms.

University Hall will be clad with ceramic tiles. There will be extensive outdoor recreation facilities on two levels, with an outdoor recreation court nearby.
Work by Hawkins Construction on the dual-tower hall began in May 2010. The project is on schedule, notwithstanding the challenges of the steep site on the western slopes of Grafton Gully.

“The benefits of modular construction are evident in time alone,” Mr Fehl says. “Building has never lagged behind at any stage.”