Major BRANZ upgrade expected to take 15 months

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The construction of the $11.4m upgrade of the BRANZ research site has begun, with the Minister of Building and Construction Maurice Williamson recently turning the first sod.
This refurbishment is the first significant improvement to BRANZ’s five hectare Judgeford research campus for more than 20 years.

The interior of existing buildings, which contain workshops, laboratories and administration areas, will be reconfigured and modernised. The buildings’ exterior will be upgraded, with most of the campus footprint remaining the same.
Improved linkages within the facility will be created, providing better communal space for staff and visitors. One stand-alone building and two minor additions will be constructed and integrated with existing buildings.

BRANZ chief executive Pieter Burghout is looking forward to seeing the revitalisation of the campus.
“BRANZ is the New Zealand construction industry’s premier research, testing and knowledge facility, and for 40 years has strived to deliver value for the industry and for New Zealanders,” Mr Burghout says.

“The refurbishment project is, in effect, an investment in the next 40 years of capability and capacity for BRANZ, so that we can carry on that proud tradition of great research and knowledge transfer.”
Architectural firm Warren and Mahoney have been working with BRANZ on designs and office layout, and Fletcher Construction is the key contractor for the redevelopment.

“Warren and Mahoney have given us some great designs, and it’s now Fletcher’s turn to build us some great buildings — and we’re looking forward to seeing the refurbishment work progress over the next year or so,” Mr Burghout says.
The project is due to be completed by December 2011.

The refurbishment — stage by stage

Stage 1: Workshop and new Nikau Building

The retrofit of workshops will see them upgraded to contemporary standards. An additional workshop area will also be added.
The new Nikau Building will be constructed and integrated into the campus development. This will use Structural Timber Innovation Company (STIC) building principles.
This type of engineering solution involves innovative, large-span, timber building technologies primarily for use in non-residential buildings, producing a sustainable building for the future.

Stage 2 : Rimu Building — part 1

The revamp of the Rimu Building will reconfigure the workshop and office spaces.
To ensure the day-to-day operations continue, the current testing laboratories will remain until the Rimu Building alterations have been completed.

The window testing facility will be decommissioned, with the entire area lowered back to a single storey. The courtyard between the Rimu and Totara Buildings will be turned into a new cafeteria area.

Stage 3: Rimu Building — part 2
Once the new laboratories are functioning, the original testing areas will be updated.

Stage 4: Totara Building

The Totara Building will become an open plan office space with a balance of meeting and communal areas. The ceiling space will be opened, and passive design features will be incorporated, including natural ventilation and solar panelling. A new entrance will be created on the south side of the building.
The proposed works will also include the provision of a pellet/woodchip boiler to produce hot water radiators required for heating. This will lower BRANZ’s carbon footprint by using a carbon-neutral, renewable fuel source.

Previous BRANZ campus refurbishments:

1970: The Building Research Association of New Zealand Inc was launched and based in Vivian Street, Wellington
1973: BRANZ begins to develop its site in Judgeford, Porirua, with the construction of the fire research and testing laboratory and associated offices. The planned move was to accommodate future research and testing capabilities.

1973: 1977 Fire Lab, Kauri Building, the caretaker’s house and temporary office accommodation on site are brought into operation.
1978: BRANZ Administration (Totara Building), Rimu Building and Workshops are completed, and the last of the Vivian St staff move to Judgeford.
1987: Structural Engineering Laboratory opens.
1995: Window testing facility opens.
1997: Extension to Rimu Building completed.

August 25, 2010: BRANZ campus refurbishment begins.

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