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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Earl Rutherford, Sam Gwynn, Michael Strack, Alistair Luke, Stefan Beconcini
Dunning Thornton Consultants
2019 NZIA Local Awards, Western, Commercial Architecture