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Reimagining Te Ora Hou


Based in Ōtautahi since 1983, Te Ora Hou Ōtautahi is committed to the holistic development of young people, their whānau and communities. Their mahi is wide reaching and includes supporting rangatahi and their whānau through education, mentoring, social work and transition support.

Te Ora Hou Ōtautahi needed a space that better served the needs of their community, and staff activities. They had purchased four prefabricated buildings from the University of Canterbury, and required architectural expertise to position and build out these spaces and enable them to function as a whole.  

To begin the process several hui were held with Te Ora Hou to help us understand how the prefabs would be used in order to best connect and fit out these spaces. The ambition was to create both a meaningful physical environment for rangatahi, and a highly practical work space for staff to host the various programmes run here. We devised a system of raised decking that connects the buildings and provides an elevated walkway for staff and rangatahi. The cluster of buildings surround a well used basketball court, and the decks on each side mean a sunny spot to work or take a break is never far away.

The staff lounge has a fully equipped kitchen to handle large events, and a decidedly relaxing atmosphere (complete with espresso maker). It has fast become the heart of the campus.

Next steps

The second stage for the alternative education complex is Te Whare Wawata. This building will provide a hub for the community, allowing for overnight stays and hui. Wawata means dream or aspiration in te reo Māori: this whare will be the most important building for the organisation, reflecting the vision of the Te Ora Hou whānau. Local artist Jon Jeet is working to translate some of the Te Ora Hou values stories into art interventions inside the whare, including a 14m long timber hoe (waka paddle).

Client: Te Ora Hou Ōtautahi
Field studio core project team: Amiria Kiddle, Jonny Knopp, Andrew Just, Lucia de Zavala 
Planner: Planz Consultants
Quantity surveyor: BBD
Surveyor: Access Land Surveying
Geotechnical & structural engineers: RSV Consulting
Fire engineer: Powell Fenwick Consultants
Civil engineer: E2 Environmental
Landscape architect: Form Garden Architecture
Emergency lighting: Ecoglo
Main contractor: Laing Properties (Stage 1), RPC Construction

Photography: Jonny Knopp

Field Studio of Architecture + Urbanism

270 St Asaph St, Boxed Quarter (Level 1, Western Courtyard)
Ōtautahi Christchurch
Aotearoa New Zealand