Marian College

Marian College | Catholic Diocese of Christchurch
The estimated $25 million development on Lydia Street, Papanui will replace the former North Parade site which was irreparably damaged in the 2011 earthquake. The new school has sustainability at the forefront of its design and will be built within the warehouse that currently exists onsite. How might values of sustainability be incorporated into the new school environment so students take on the role of kaitiaki of their own school ground?
Working closely with the school, our design thinking placed students at the center of the design process, and how the Special Catholic Character and the values of our school could be reflected in the landscape design. At the heart of the design is the incorporation of ideas from students, community and whānau consultations, which has led to practical elements of the design such as a prayer walk, fruit trees, picking gardens and a detailed planting plan.

The overall landscape master plan establishes a vision and strategy to transform the new school ground from an industrial site into a place where students, parents and staff will call home. The plan weaves together the building with the outdoor space, and connects the school with its neighbouring school Saint Joseph School. A series of themed gardens to the west will grow the students’ role as kaitiaki by engaging them to grow restorative planting, rongoā species and to care for a pā harakeke and a number of productive gardens.

Working closely with the school, our detailed design carefully considers and incorporates the Special Catholic Character and the values of Marian College. This is reflected in the landscape design, and in particular the Founders Wall, where the cross is formed by a void and at night the trees behind are lit to form a cross. The two panels either side of the cross tell the story of Catherine McAuley and Mary MacKillop respectively. The space also provides a great sun spot and outdoor teaching area that is protected from the Southerly.

WildLab worked closely with the school on embedding their cultural narrative into the new site in Papanui, alongside their Mana Whenua Facilitator from Matauraka Mahaanui. The use of native species appropriate to the area is central to the planting and pays respect to the mana whenua of the site. The site itself has been gifted the name Mahutonga by Ngāi Tahu, referencing both the concept of journeying and navigation by the Southern Cross stars, and this also has been a key feature of the landscape design.

“Mick and his team have worked with Marian College on the landscaping design for our new school in Papanui, Christchurch. We have valued working with WildLab and their holistic and deep commitment to caring for the environment. The students are at the centre of his thinking and his design will teach them about sustainable practice by incorporating these values into their own school environment.”

– Mary-Lou Davidson (Principal | Marian College)

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