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Prefab to the Rescue

By December 4, 20112 Comments

Attending the latest PrefabNZ event last week, we were treated to the sight of a school project being completed in what must surely be record time, for the replacement of a school teaching block. This has strong ramifications for Wellington, where just this week a number of government buildings, such as Courthouses in the provinces, have been suddenly struck down as dire earthquake risks. While a week ago people were happily going about their business in Court (although, come to think of it, happily may not be the correct word to use there), and now they’ve had their chambers closed down, shuttered fast until someone fixes their glaring structural faults.

The PrefabNZ industry certainly has one possible answer up its sleeves, if the presentations from the teams at Stanley Modular is anything to go by. Quite an incredible, fascinating production team, of Alistair from Dunning Thornton, Justin from Assembly Architects, and Earl from Motm Architects, working at evidently breakneck speed for Stanley Modular. To cut a short story even shorter: an entire condemned school block was replaced over a school holiday break, so that 28 days after pupils moved out, a shiny new series of classrooms had been installed for the wee tykes. To an adult this seems quite incredible – to the children of the school, this must surely be thought of as simply magic, a feat worthy of Mr Harry Potter at the very least, although a whole lot less destructive and involving a lot less owls.

How do you simply spirit up a series of new school buildings up out of a magic hat in a mere 28 days, completely furnished and internet ready, and Resource Consented to boot? The key to this seems to reside in something in the water in Matamata, home to Hobbits as well as home to the intense Scottish brain of Stanley Modular: Gary Caulfield. The assorted team members, evidently having become a very close-knot group during the construction of the new student hostel project next to Elam in Auckland, have developed a highly sophisticated system for construction of modular housing and classrooms. There is a lot of trade secrets going on there – which I won’t give away, except to say that I think that the problem of a few new / temporary Courtrooms should be a doddle for the Prefab industry.

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  • m-d says:

    oooh – I know that one (the top pic)!

    No longer a courthouse mind you…

  • Guy says:

    Rats – found out at the first bite. Yes, you’re right, it is the Marton courthouse, now no longer a courthouse, but instead converted to residential. And therein lies the problem – as that building is a Change of Use, it will have had to be upgraded for some things under the Building Code – primarily, Fire and Safety, and Access for the Disabled. Possibly, at the same time, it will have been upgraded for seismic resistance as well.
    But a building that is a Court house, has always been a Courthouse, and in the future is still going to have to be a Courthouse, is not subject to the same scrutiny. They may or may not have been upgraded for Fire, or for Disabled Access. But until now, there has been no incentive / imperative for them to be upgraded to modern structural standards.