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Timber Design Awards

Onehunga Primary School Entranceway

Intended to give Onehunga Primary School (OPS) a stronger street presence, and to ensure safety by separating the pedestrian entrance from nearby vehicles, this Entranceway was designed and built as a pro bono architecture student project.

To communicate OPS’s environmental values, the entranceway incorporates edible plants and information so that children, parents and even passers-by can learn how to grow and harvest food.

Built from donated materials by volunteer builders, the structure’s ‘buildability’ was key. I designed a prefabricated modular structural system consisting of 50 members cut from 17mm ply by a CNC-machine and laminated together. The diagonal grid geometry provided a basic structure of frames and bracing, and a dynamic aesthetic. The grid increases in density at the corners to provide more structural strength, and over the footpath to provide more shelter. The members slotted together like a 3D jigsaw, meaning anyone willing could help with the assembly – it took only 12 hours for a group of students to slot the structure together!

We added different methods of planting – vertical planting in built-in boxes, container planting, and sack planting. Educational material included information on caring for plants and recipes for cooking produce.

The Entranceway was designed and constructed to benefit two communities – to educate and inspire the community of Onehunga Primary, and to develop the skills of the student volunteers who built it. The structure advances the School’s environmental goals, and developing a cooperative, mutually supportive way to create buildings is a further step towards true sustainability.