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Construction to begin on $105m North Campus building after Covid delays

By Justin Hu (he/him)

The A1 building project has been delayed by 18 months partially due to uncertainty around revenue from international students.

Major construction will begin on a new$105m building project at AUT’s NorthCampus after it had been put on hold dueto funding uncertainty.

AUT planners say the new four-storey ‘A1’building will finally provide students onthe North Campus with study spaces andclassrooms that are comparable to theCity and South Campuses. They say thebuilding is expected to open to students insemester one 2024.

The university’s design and projectsdirector Greg Posa told Debate that A1

would complete a trifecta of new buildingprojects across AUT’s three campuses.

He said the project has been delayedfor 18 months as a result of uncertaintyaround international student revenue andconstruction supply chain issues.

“If you know the North Campus; it's tired, old,and parts are in disrepair. The A1 building willbring a new life to that campus,” he said.

In a prior life, the North Campus hadbeen a teacher training college beforebeing retrofitted to function as part of

a polytechnic in 1985, and would later become a university when AUT gained university status in 2000.

Posa said the new building would create a “heart” on the campus in the same way the WG and MH buildings have at AUT’s City and South Campuses. He said students and staff would be quick to notice the changes with large open-plan social spaces.

“A heart means a sort of flash building that would link into other buildings and create areas that would be a magnet to bring students on campus.”

When completed, the 6,000 square metre building will connect to the existing fourstorey AF building at each level, as well as the existing library. It will accommodate around 2,000 students and over 200 staff.

The new building would provide more teaching and postgraduate space for the health and environmental sciences faculty that’s currently based on the North Campus. Other amenities in the new building include a high-quality café that will seat up to 150 people. A new Student Hub will also be in the building.

Students and staff should expect some disruption on campus while construction is underway, according to Posa, including noise and excess dust.

He said the university will be working to reduce noise during exam times and that parking on the campus wouldn’t be affected. Meanwhile, the existing AF building has been “decanted” and would be refurbished during A1’s construction.

“You'll see where the perimeter fences are in place now and they will be in place for the whole duration, they won't really move much from now on.”

The university’s planners are also quick to point out that A1 will also become AUT’s most environmentally sustainable building once it opens.

According to the university, around 60 percent of water used in and around A1 will come from rainwater harvesting and parts of the building will be “super insulated” beyond required building standards. The building’s plans also call for a more sustainable timber-based structure, rather

than concrete, that will be quieter to construct, Posa said.

AUT Estate's communications manager Lara Posa said the new building would be part of a sustainability plan to offer North Campus students a “greener” proposition.

“The North Campus is quite a different proposition to the City Campus — it's a lot greener, it's a lot leafier. Our sustainability team has looked at an overarching kind of sustainability plan,” she said.

Posa said the university had looked at ideas like creating a “bird highway” habitat corridor to encourage native birds to return to the campus area. She said on-campus orchards could also help provide sustainable food for universityowned cafs.

As part of its redevelopment plans, AUT is also currently in the process of moving out of its leased space in the WT building, otherwise known as “AUT Tower”.

The A1 project had been delayed for 18 months due to funding uncertainty and work on the project had recommenced after a “lengthy retendering process”, according to AUT.

In 2020, then-AUT chancellor John Maasland said the deferral of the A1 project had helped the university manage the initial impact of lost revenue from international students.

“The university’s difficult decision to delay construction of the A1 building at North Campus helped manage the initial impact, yet does not address the needs of the students and staff at that campus,” he said at the time in the university’s annual report.

“Covid has again exposed the systemic underfunding of the tertiary sector, and the inherent risks associated with its heavy reliance on international student revenue.”


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