Special operations.
McKee Mangahewa
Control Centre.


The new Operations Facility for Todd Energy centralises the control, handling and emergency response requirements of the adjacent natural gas processing plant. Cut into a hillside, the modular Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) building will dramatically improve safety and operational efficiency for those that work on site.

Right The projects remote rural location is a strategic junction between two of New Zealand’s largest natural gas fields. The plant processes natural gas from over 20 wells.

The McKee Mangahewa Processing Plant is located 12km inland from the coastal township of Waitara at the boundary between two major North Taranaki natural gas fields. It’s a place where you’ll find an interesting dichotomy between the industrial nature of the production site and the rural valley floor setting, deep within Tikorangi hill country.

Left The site for the new control building was carefully selected to be close to the existing processing facility while being sufficiently separated for safety reasons.

Below The single integrated building information model (BIM) is used for both drawing output and to assist with construction directly using on-site 3D model viewers. Upon completion the BIM model will be made available to the client’s facilities management team for maintenance.

The McKee Mangahewa fields consist of multiple wells linked to the Production Station, where well fluids are separated and stabilised into natural gas, oil and water – a complex and risky operation. Operational staff are currently spread out across the site, housed in a number of small and ageing control buildings.

The new, 940m2 Operations Facility sited at the foot of the valley and elevated above the northern plant entrance area and main public roadway, is designed to consolidate existing operations, engineering and support services and staff and promote a cultural shift towards increased collaboration – a key concern of the Todd Energy brief.

Above A design framework was established based on the clients model of operation, security requirements and project aspirations. Workshops with key operations and support staff resulted in a clear series of functional adjacency diagrams.

The building superstructure is entirely constructed of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) panels. Here the contractor applies temporary weather proof tape to the CLT joints.

The new building, cut 10m into the hillside, literally works its way into the surrounding landforms. A series of long terraces minimises excavation to the north while on the south boundary retained earth provides natural protection from plant activities and hazards.

Below All of the buildings structural components, including, floor, roof and wall panels and beams were prefabricated and assembled, rather than constructed, on site.

The building employs cross-laminated timber (CLT) as the structural material – chosen for strength, sustainability, economies of scale, speed of construction and construction safety. Largely exposed on the interior, the timber provides a robust alternative to more industrial finishes and contributes to a healthy working environment. The exterior cladding is primarily a terracotta tile system that contrasts with finer elements, such as aluminium sun louvres for contrast and rhythm.

Below The light weight of the CLT structure was a large factor in achieving IL4 design standard for critical infrastructure within a modest budget.

The building’s location clear of the main plant area allows natural ventilation to do the ‘heavy lifting’ for heating and cooling. Other energy efficient attributes of the design include an integrated heat-pump system that supports the more critical spaces and mitigates extreme temperature changes, shallow floorplates that enable natural light into office and staff areas and LED lighting. The key social areas are a cafeteria and open deck, which are situated for views over the river valley and wetland. Work areas are arranged for functional and efficient workflow and communications and once staff occupy the building they will move into open plan office arrangements with shared meeting spaces.

Team Members
Aaron Miller,
Past Team Members

Earl Rutherford, Sam Gwynn, Michael Strack, Alistair Luke, Stefan Beconcini

Nagel Consultants
Dunning Thornton Consultants
Building Workshop
Civil Engineer
BTW Company


Todd Energy

2019 NZIA Local Awards, Western, Commercial Architecture