U leisure is a joint venture between the University of Waikato and the Waikato Students union. It is responsible for enhancing the student experience through establishing and maintaining facilities and services for the benefit of students and staff at the university. U Leisure operates the university Rec Centre and manages events such as ‘The Great Race’ rowing race, ‘The Rev’ cycle race and ‘Round the Bridges’, all annual events in Hamilton.
The project involved relocating the administration arm of U Leisure from their existing building to a refurbished building less than 50m away. The existing accommodation had the team spread out over a large floor plate with no real campus presence. The brief required office space for a staff of 20, three meeting rooms, waiting area and reception, breakout space, new change areas, showers and ancillary storage space.
The brief also called for the space to reflect and enhance the U Leisure work place, an organization of young, sport and culturally minded people with a culture of working together and innovation. The client wanted ‘modern’.
The building U Leisure relocated to was built in the late 1960’s and was the original student dining hall. The building has had many lives since then including a student bar and up until this project was four drop-in computer labs. The main space is a circular floor plate and included a central core with a spiral stair to the ground floor. The internal walls defining the four computer labs and suspended ceilings were removed to create an open floor plate and expose the original timber skillion ceiling. This ‘opening’ of the space returned the original volume, allowing light to penetrate deeper into the floor adding a sense of space.
A reception and waiting area were formed at the building entry, alongside three meeting rooms of varying sizes. The meeting rooms are formed as rooms within the larger existing envelope. Internal partitions were formed from solid oak to sit with the original timber ceiling. Staff workstations wrap around the curving perimeter allowing for views to the campus lake immediately below. The central disused stair to the ground floor was closed off with a new floor and turned into a unique breakout meeting space. A casual breakout space was formed near the central core with loose recycled furniture and a new kitchen.
The fit-out embraces and enhances the U Leisure culture of innovation and collaboration.