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Otago Business School building redevelopment opens

Guests gather outside the newly renovated Otago Business School building early yesterday morning for the building's blessing and opening. Photos: Graham Warman.

The newly redeveloped University of Otago Business School’s common space opened yesterday, following an early morning blessing with a whakawatea.

The building was redeveloped over two floors, in a major project which began in October 2016.

The redevelopment brings it into line with a more modern learning environment, and replaces the wet and cold atrium, which was exacerbated by leaks and the lack of a wind-proof door.

Guests tour the newly renovated space.

The newly developed ground level incorporates teaching, study and social spaces, an information sharing area, as well as a café and the Dean’s Office. This new common area will be known as Te Wao Nui.

Otago Business School Dean Professor Robin Gauld says it will provide an engaging central common space for collaborative, formal and informal learning and social interactions for students and Business School staff, as well as the wider business community.

Dean of the Otago Business School Professor Robin Gauld speaks at the opening.

“It’s a warm and very inviting space that will be important to help the Business School continue to be a leading education provider in the future.”

Study spaces, including study rooms equipped with screens and projectors for group work, are a feature.

At the same time, a new and more accessible street entrance from Union Street East at ground level has created a more recognisable and inviting main access.

The tour continues, taking in the new stairs and new cafe.

The Otago MBA, formerly located in an unconnected lower ground floor wing of the building, will also become more accessible as it moves into its first floor area early in 2018. The new café, Te Matiti opens on 8 January 2018.

The new space will host the University graduation brunch this weekend, and the first classes to be taught in the building will start in January with the 2018 Summer School.

Art by Ngāi Tahu artist Ross Hemera adorns the space - inspired by the story of the legendary Āraiteuru waka.

Early Māori trade and enterprise in Otago and the resilience and survival of the skilled travellers, as told in the story of the legendary Āraiteuru waka, inspire the artwork in the space.

A distinctive 10-metre sculpture by Ngāi Tahu artist Ross Hemera, suspended from the ceiling above this shared space, is a modern interpretation of ancient Māori rock art. It is a visual exploration of notions about navigation, sustenance and preservation.

Specially designed etchings on glasswork around the shared space reflect migration and settlement, and reference Ranginui (sky), tīpuna (ancestors), and ngā ika’ (water creatures).

The graduated colours of the carpet for this physical meeting space suggest movement, drawing people into the large open light space in the central ‘clearing’ area.

The space was designed by Mason and Wales and the contractors were Naylor Love.

Get a feel for the newly renovated space with more beautiful images by Graham Warman.