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The Sub

The Substation is a multi-functional, experimental facility designed to bring together the aspirations of the various businesses of one of New Zealand’s largest infrastructure providers.

Included amongst these businesses were telecommunications (Fibre optics), renewable energy resources, gas, metering and traditional electricity supply. The strategy for providing this multi-functional space was modular: an existing central dividing wall was demolished, and four bespoke timber pods were inserted into a raw post war industrial space. Drawing their formal language from ideas of circuitry, transistors and capacitors, the pods delineate a series of spaces in which innovation, experimentation and display are integrated into a cohesive yet adaptable experience.

Sustainably grown, locally sourced pine plywood was chosen as the main material, for both its environmentally responsible qualities and its “warmth” within the space. The existing space is divided into a presentation/social area in front of the pods, suitable for workshops, seminars, training and social functions, while behind the pods the space is deliberately more industrial, allowing for easy adaptability to new technology, experimentation and metering of installed technologies. The roof space was occupied: two wind turbines generate electricity for the pods, and a 12 meter long solar array was installed that consisted of Photovoltaics and Solar Hot Water Heating Technology.  All energy and heat is either used or stored in the Substation display, with provision being made for overflow to be fed back into the grid during summer months. All data regarding this system is collected and analysed.

Feedback received from the client indicates the Substation had been a highly successful tool for the company. By using the Architecture to establish a framework for change, rather than adopting a didactic approach to sustainability and the integration of technology and infrastructure in the “home of the future,” the Substation has been able to adapt to a rapidly changing sector of a very important industry.

Awards:

2008 Timber Design Awards: Joint Winner, Sustainability

2008 Timber Design Awards: Highly Commended, Interior Fit Out