Most, if not all, tertiary institutions spend vast amounts of money marketing their suitability to national and international students. A big part of that is being able to offer non-local attendees onsite accommodation.
For Massey University Albany campus, student accommodation had previously been of the third-party kind – that is, students being billeted by the community.
Following the completion of a $26m-plus project the campus now boasts a 292-bed student accommodation village comprising seven separate buildings, three of which offer dormitory-style rooms (210 beds) and three contain studio and five-bed apartments (82 beds). The seventh building houses social amenities.
University spokesman James Gardiner says the new facilities presented a win-win scenario for the university and students.
“With accommodation in Auckland as expensive as it has ever been, the opportunity to provide new facilities to domestic and international students will go a long way towards raising the profile of the Auckland campus.
“There is, similarly, a significant advantage to students who wish to live on campus to keep their costs down, as well as be right next to lecture theatres, the library, recreation centre, student health and other facilities. Although it was only opened at the beginning of semester one this year, the village is already adding greatly to the life of the campus.”
Massey University engaged Arrow International to construct the facility, which was delivered to a tight 13-month programme, says Auckland Manager Julian Huggins.
“The project was fast track; it went from a concept that had been in existence for a few years, to something that was confirmed for a start and then had to reach an earthworks season from design in four months.
“The buoyant Auckland construction market added significant challenges. Long lead times for key items such as precast concrete and general procurement of sub-trades – added additional pressure to an already tight construction programme.”
Difficult geotechnical conditions contributed their own issues. The former clean-fill site presented varying ground conditions and a large amount of bulk earthworks was required to create the various building platforms, explains Huggins.
“The buildings all sit on different foundation types varying from full-piled options with suspended floors through to ground-bearing footings on the areas of harder ground. These problematic conditions challenged the team again mid-project when one of the accommodation buildings had an unexpected sub-grade failure, which caused 50% of the structure to sink up to 150mm and rendered the foundations un-usable.
“However, the delays created by problems with this building actually worked to our advantage as it meant our team was able to focus on other elements of the build. Whilst this building slowed it allowed a more focused resource to build it when the time actually came, meaning it eventually went up faster than all the others.”
These and other delays created by the late arrival of materials meant that the construction programme was compressed, necessitating multiple trades to work simultaneously. At its peak, there were up to 160 sub-contractors on site, in some instances working seven days a week to achieve completion.
“As with any project, encountering challenges such as the above lead the Massey team to find innovative ways to protect the project programme. The fit out of the bedrooms was initially outside Arrow’s scope and was to be handled by the client. However, around two-thirds of the way through the job, given the delays encountered, it was realised that the timeframe for these installations would blow out the completion date.
“Arrow agreed with the client that they would take on this fit out as a fully integrated programme. This meant that Arrow took on the responsibility for all the desks, wardrobes, beds, mattresses, chairs, appliances, curtains, etc but gave us an opportunity to overlap the construction programme and gain back some of the time we required to complete,” says Huggins.
“During this period there was a lot of trust given by Massey University to both Arrow and the sub-contracting market. This was a significant project for Massey – and an emotive one as it marks the beginning of pastoral care at the Albany campus. That trust was never lost on us and drove the project teams to achieve the opening.”