OHOPE BEACH SCHOOL
Ohope Beach, New Zealand
Located east of Whakatane on the idyllic beachside, Ohope Beach School is a Year 1 to 6 primary school with a roll of 320 pupils. Ignite led the redevelopment of the school’s site and facilities while ensuring there was minimal disruption to school operations during demolition and construction works.
The staged redevelopment included reworking the existing master plan, as well as replacing the administration block and several classrooms that were affected by weather-tightness issues. We also upgraded other classrooms that had already been remediated.
The new teaching spaces are designed to the latest Ministry requirements. We incorporated retained buildings by converting current spaces into ILEs, and we introduced outdoor learning spaces, a new hall, a library, administration areas, and new car parking and landscaping.
The new two-storey block contains 11 ILE spaces with teaching space groupings of two or three per learning hub. Each teaching hub has their own presentation space with built-in bleacher seating. This allows for both formal presentations and casual collaborative learning.
Located in a valley with restricted frontage, the school’s challenging site contains an on-site stream and overland flow path. This required a design based around a successful stormwater solution, as well as careful placement of the new buildings. Through careful planning, the design resolves these issues.
Ignite worked with the Ministry of Education as well as with the school, the Board of Trustees (BOT), iwi, and other community members to develop a solution that was acceptable to all stakeholders.
The site is leased from local Iwi (Ngāti Awa) and in order to represent the story and culture of Ngāti Awa, Ignite worked collaboratively with Ngāti Awa representatives, a local design firm (Law Creative Group) and Tā Moko artist, teacher, and painter, Kahurangi Falaoa.
The story of Tamarau seemed to have a particular resonance with the school site, which is known to have supported extensive gardens in the past and lies in the shadow of one of the Pā sites comprising Maungateone and is directly connected with the Wharekura stream and Ohope beach.
The subsequent implementation of the Pou was the result of a partnership between Ngāti Awa as landowner, who gifted and interpreted the story of Tamarau, and the project team who co-ordinated and implemented the design and physical work in consultation with each other. In addition to the entrance Pou, graphics, artwork, and carvings are prevalent around the site. These tell the story of the past to current and future students.
For students, bringing these stories to life helps create a sense of place, significance, and pride.