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Welcome Shelter


An Educational & Volunteer Space At Longbush Ecosanctuary

Waimata Valley / Gisborne, New Zealand

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Welcome Shelter


An Educational & Volunteer Space At Longbush Ecosanctuary

Waimata Valley / Gisborne, New Zealand

The Welcome Shelter was built by 88 volunteers with materials donated by a further 88 sponsors. Never before in the history of New Zealand architecture has such a large and diverse group created public architecture without a government partner. It is truly a grass-roots community initiative.
— Sarosh Mulla

a vision

We have a vision of architecture that supports the environment and highlights the positive role humans can play in the stewardship of the landscape. We are part of the ecology of the Longbush Ecosanctuary and the Welcome Shelter is a place to celebrate that. Through the construction of the Welcome Shelter, we hope to encourage members of the public to visit this very special place, free of charge. Together we want to celebrate the diversity of the environment, learn about how we can do more and then apply this knowledge. 

Welcome To Longbush. 


OUr ecology

The Welcome Shelter promotes community engagement in environmental education and conservation volunteering.    

community development

The project is a grass-roots development which activates the community to create innovative architecture.

Built by Volunteers

88 Volunteers have supported the construction of the project and it has already been a successful architectural education tool. 

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This project forms a new vision for how innovative public architecture can support communities and conservation programmes.
— Sarosh Mulla



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Longbush


Longbush Ecosanctuary is a haven for New Zealand's native flora and fauna. 

Longbush


Longbush Ecosanctuary is a haven for New Zealand's native flora and fauna. 

Welcome to the Longbush Ecosanctuary - an Ark in the Bush.
— Dame Anne Salmond

The Ecosanctuary is a haven for rare and endangered species of native birds, plants and animals. It is reached by a winding gravel road up an inland valley, just 9 kilometres from Gisborne city on the Tai Rawhiti / East Coast of New Zealand.

From high hill ridges to the west, three streams tumble down steep valleys and across a plain, entering the Waimata River to the east. A rare surviving strip of lowland bush (Longbush Reserve) runs beside the Waimata River. The bush is alive with the sound of birds, including tui, bellbirds, fantails, kingfishers, whiteheads and many kereru or native pigeons.

The Longbush Ecosanctuary is home to a wide range of New Zealand's native birds. The North Island Black Robin, Titi, Tui, Kereru, Korimako, Fantail, Kingfisher, Ruru, Tomtit, Popokotea, Karearea, Grey Warbler and Pipiwharauroa all call Longbush home. Longbush also supports an increasingly diverse range of plant species, including rare and endangered species such as Red Kakabeak, Black Orchids and Pittosporum Obcorbdatum. Berry-bearing trees such as Titoki, Karaka, Puriri and Taraire provide a plentiful food source for the birds who make their home at Longbush. 

The Rene Orchiston collection at Longbush holds 60 distinct varieties of Harakeke (New Zealand flax). A favourite of the Tui during their flowering season, this part of the ecosanctuary is transformed annually, by the ecstatic calls of the Tui. 

The ecosanctuary also holds grey geckos, long-tailed bats and black headed tree weta. The diversity of the wildlife in the bush increases to grow through active reintroduction of new species as well as through natural migration.

An extensive pest control regime ensures that mammalian predator densities are kept low at Longbush. This is essential to protecting the bird populations and encouraging the growth of young plants. 

Volunteers are encouraged to join the conservation works at Longbush to ensure that the density and diversity of our native flora and fauna continues to grow.



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People


Leading community development of architecture

People


Leading community development of architecture

Sarosh Mulla 

DESIGNER & PROJECT LEADER

Sarosh is an architectural designer, design tutor, founding member of the design collective OH.NO.SUMO and Doctoral Scholar at the University of Auckland. Sarosh's architectural practice has been widely awarded by the New Zealand Institute of Architects, Designers Institute of New Zealand and in 2011 his design work was exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Sarosh designed the Welcome Shelter and led the team of volunteers in its construction. He also led the fundraising, project management and marketing of the initiative. 

Dame Anne Salmond

LONGBUSH ECOLOGICAL TRUST

Dame Anne is the Chairperson of the Longbush Ecological Trust, alongside her role as Distinguished Professor of Maori Studies at the University of Auckland. Anne is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and was named New Zealander of the Year in 2013. Anne is a tireless advocate for the environment and has supported the Welcome Shelter initiative from the outset.

Anne's leadership of the Trust has established Longbush as an exemplar of research focused, community based conservation.

Ryan Mahon

PROFILED VOLUNTEER

Ryan is one of the 88 volunteers who constructed the Welcome Shelter. An architectural student at the University of Auckland, Ryan is representative of all of the volunteers in his enthusiasm, commitment to architectural quality and his sense of adventure. Ryan made five separate trips to Longbush to be part of the construction throughout 2014. He was also an instrumental part of the prefabrication team based in Auckland. 

Ryan's energy and sense of humour set the  tone of the volunteer team. 

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Design


Programmatic and spatial innovation through design research

Design


Programmatic and spatial innovation through design research

Interpretive modelling is a technique where abstract ideas are represented through the creation of physical models. It allows me to think about complex relational issues through a spatial medium. In this case, the ideas relate to Geoff Park’s book ‘Theatre Country’ and the way that we look at landscapes. I took these abstract models and developed the ideas into 40 different schemes, from which the final design was developed.
— Sarosh Mulla

The way a piece of architecture is designed and constructed is as important as the finished spaces. This is because these spaces often rely on the creativity and rigour of the early stages of a project. 

Three ideas were key to the design of the Welcome Shelter.

  1. The architecture can be a tool for framing and viewing the landscape. 
  2. The architecture can prompt us to think about the way the landscape around us is defined and how we might reconfigure this. 
  3. The architecture can provide facilities and shelter without removing the experience of being in the landscape. 
The project was designed using a range of analogue and digital tools and then tested using digitally fabricated prototypes
— Sarosh Mulla

MANAGEMENT

It might sound unusual, but the management of this construction and documentation process was also a design project. The structure of the teams, sequence of the build and the procurement of sponsors, was carefully planned out to enable the project leaders to coordinate the huge number of volunteers and supporters working on different aspects of the Welcome Shelter. 

 BIM DOCUMENTATION

The level of documentation produced for the construction of the Welcome Shelter is extreme. Each detail was interrogated in detail through three dimensional modelling and traditional sectional detailing. This was done to enable the volunteer work force to clearly understand the intension of the drawings and how each part of the building was put together. 

DESIGN RESOLUTION

The project is designed through mixing traditional hand made models, digital modelling, digital fabrication and building information management [BIM] software. The result is that ideas are still generated organically, but they can be tested quickly and accurately. This is turn means that the ideas and spaces can develop further. 



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Construction


Prefabricated elements are assembled and finished on site

Construction


Prefabricated elements are assembled and finished on site

We lived on site together during the build and endured some very wet days in the mud and rain together. As a result, we became a very tight knit group of volunteers.
— Sarosh Mulla

PREFABRICATION

The majority of the structure was prefabricated in Auckland, where the bulk of suppliers and volunteers were based late in 2013.

The structure was designed as a bolt together system. This allowed for quick and easy assembly on site, without the need for extensive on-site welding. The precision of this steel structure was aided by utilising laser cutting technology in the cutting of the flanges and mounting plates. The 12 metre long fabricated frame elements were then hot dip galvanised to protect the structure from corrosion and then transported to Gisborne on a flat deck articulated truck. 

The timber enclosures were designed as a nail together system. Individual framing modules, which were small enough to be lifted my two people, were prefabricated at the University of Auckland by the volunteer team. These modules were drawn in incredible detailed, modelled digitally and physically before finally making the leap to full scale timber construction elements. This process allowed for a great deal of accuracy in the manufacturing, even though the volunteer team was relatively inexperienced. The preparation of detailed documents also meant that there was a tiny (2%) waste rate in cutting the timber to length. This is incredibly low for the building industry, where a 10% waste rate is considered a standard. The timber modules were then transported to site in Gisborne. 

ON SITE CONSTRUCTION

Once the prefabricated elements arrived on site assembly began quickly. Beginning with the steel roof structure. 

The team set about accurately placing the foundations for the steel roof and began assembling the pergola edge to the roof on ground level. With a tight operating budget, crane time was minimised and instead the huge volunteer team would band together to lift the huge steel beams using the same simple techniques labourers used in the ancient world. Once preparations had been made the steel columns were then lifted into place using a HIAB crane. Each of these columns was mounted with a chain block and lifting arm. Once the columns were positioned and the concrete poured, these chain blocks were used to lift the assembled beam structure into place - 6 metres above the ground. This 4.5 tonnes beam assembly was lifted in 12 minutes by four people with the aid of the four chain blocks. 

The timber structural modules were by hand positioned and nailed off quickly using a Paslode gun and bolt fittings. The timber frame was then wrapped and clad with sustainably grown untreated Douglas Fir vertical shiplap cladding. The roof deck was then completed in-situ. The interiors were lined with white washed New Zealand manufactured SD Radiate plywood, creating a contrast with the dark exterior stain. The cedar and rosewood joinery was stained red, referencing the colour of the Manuka seed pods. 


LIFT TOGETHER

While digital fabrication and prefabricated construction methodologies were embraced in the project, there were several parts of the construction which required the volunteer team to 'lift together'. This not only meant giving each other a hand when lifting large or heavy objects, but it meant getting stuck in together no matter what the task. We realised that we were more than the sum of our parts when we worked together. 

professionals

There were some parts of the project which required specific skills or experience. For instance, rigging the fabric roof membrane required specialist tools and the ability, and certification, to work at heights. For these parts of the project, professional contractors were brought onto the team. These contractors provided a valuable service and at each juncture became a part of the Longbush family, taking on the vision of the project.