Te Whare Nui o Tuteata

Scion's striking three storey building, Te Whare Nui o Tuteata, is open daily.

The building is named “Te Whare Nui o Tuteata” which means the great house of Tuteata. Tuteata is the ancestor of the three hapū who are the tangata whenua here: Ngāti Hurungaterangi, Ngāti Taeotu and Ngāti Te Kahu. The name was gifted to Scion by those three hapū to acknowledge Tuteata and the connection to the land, Te Mingi. Scion and the hapū are building a strong partnership together.

Te Whare Nui o Tuteata is Scion’s front door for business visitors and the public. All are invited to experience the building’s unique structural design, discover innovative technologies and science achievements in the interactive exhibition area and enjoy refreshments from Eastwood café. View location and opening hours.

Design and construction facts

  • The dominant feature of the three-storey 2000 m2 building is the diagonal grid (diagrid) timber structure. Diagrids are an efficient way to provide strength and stiffness and require less material than traditional structures. The building is believed to be a world first for a wooden diagrid structure of its size.
  • Engineered timber options have been chosen for construction for their physical properties, sustainability and environmental performance. The diagrid wall frames use Glulam and laminated veneer lumber (LVL) technology; the floor beams and roof trusses have been manufactured from LVL. The floors, lift shaft panels, suspended staircases and meeting room bracing rooms are made from cross laminated timber (CLT). The signature entry canopies utilise both LVL and Glulam technology. The lift shaft is one the few entirely wooden lift shafts in the world.
  • The strength of the diagrid components was tested at Scion. An apex portion was subjected to 45 tonnes of downward pressure then pulled upward by a 31.5 tonne force. A node section, where diagrid components are integrated with a horizontal member, was subjected to 20 tonnes of compression to try to twist the horizontal component. All the pieces tested passed with flying colours, performing comfortably at even the maximum design loads the engineers had calculated.
  • Fire resistance is well catered for in the building design being sufficient to prevent fire spread or structural failure. The heavy timber members, like the LVL components, tend to char rather than catch alight. The charring rate is slow and predictable, and the layer of char acts as insulation protecting the underlying timber.
  • The open frame diagrid structure is designed to result in low damage from seismic activity. The connections between the diagrid units include a component designed to deform during severe earthquakes to protect the building. The components are replaceable.
  • The building contains 454 m3 of structural wood, storing approximately 418 tonnes of CO2-e for the life of the building. This storage is equivalent to the emissions from 160 people taking return flights from Auckland to London. New Zealand radiata pine forests can regrow this amount of wood in only 35 minutes. (Note, this building was not designed as carbon-negative, but choosing wood instead of alternative construction materials has value in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption during the product manufacturing and building construction stages.)
  • The triple-height atrium leads up to a spectacular custom-designed wooden ceiling inspired by the structure of a radiata pine genome with lighting reflecting the Matariki night sky. Timber battens and plywood panels in subtle tones depict the barcoding effect from the plant DNA. The arrangement of atrium ceiling lights represents the Matariki star cluster, which is treasured in New Zealand and spoken of as mother Matariki and her six daughters. The reappearance of the Matariki stars signals the beginning of the Māori New Year.
  • A wrap around coloured curtain wall clads the building in colours that reflect the forest canopy and acknowledge the cultural significance of the land. Traditional tukutuku weaving inspired the double-skin façade with coloured glass moderating solar gains, while internally creating the effect of dappled light falling through a forest canopy.
  • The building is sustainably designed with typical office heating and cooling needs significantly reduced. Developed for the local climate, a motorised double-skin façade provides heat recovery in winter with the coloured glazing panels and internal building cavity regulating thermal gains in summer. Other energy saving features include natural ventilation, solar shading and LED lighting – all contributing to reducing plant and ongoing running costs.

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Our exhibition space

The exhibition showcases Scion science and research in three key areas:

  • Caring for our forests with the goal of healthy, resilient forests that New Zealanders can all enjoy.
  • Building the future from timber. Trees are the ultimate green technology. When we build with timber, we continue storing carbon for decades or even centuries.
  • Creating tomorrow's products. “Anything made from fossil-based materials today can be made from a tree tomorrow.”

Find out more about Innovation at Scion

The exhibition was designed and installed by The Gibson Group.

The team

Architectural design – RTA Studio, Irving Smith; Structural engineering - Dunning Thornton; Engineered wood fabrication - Timberlab / Xlam; Construction - Watts & Hughes; Project managers - RDT Pacific; Exhibition design and installation – The Gibson Group.

Architecture Awards

  • World Timber Prize World Architecture Festival 2021
  • World Higher Education and Research winner, World Architecture Festival 2020-2021
  • The Building Award, Indo-Pacific INDE Awards, Sydney 2021
  • Best of Best Masterprize Award for Green Buildings, Architecture Masterprize Awards, USA 2021
  • Architecture Masterprize Award for Commercial Buildings, Architecture Masterprize Awards, USA 2021
  • Gold diploma in Institutional subcategory of Eurasian Prize for Architecture and Design, Russia 2021
  • Architizer World Architecture + Wood Winner, Architizer A+ Awards 2021
  • Architizer World Architecture + Wood Winner - Popular Choice, Architizer A+ Awards 2021
  • New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) National Award (Commercial) 2021
  • NZIA Waikato/BOP Award for Architecture 2021
  • Property Council NZ Award of Excellence (Resene Green Building Property Award) 2021
  • Property Council NZ Award of Excellence (Commercial Office Property Award) 2021
  • Resene Total Colour Neutrals Award 2021
  • Resene Colour Award 2021
  • Supreme Winner WGANZ Window and Glass Association of New Zealand Awards 2021
  • Gold Pins for Best in Category in categories of Built Environment, Office and Workspace Environments, Public and Institutional Spaces, and Toitanga, at the Designers’ Institute of New Zealand Best Design Awards 2021
  • Purple Pin, Overall Spatial Design winner in Designers’ Institute of New Zealand Best Design Awards 2021
  • Sustainable Development Award, New Zealand Timber Design Awards 2023
  • ‘The Most Beautiful, Innovative and Iconic Building’ award, Dubai International Best Practices Award for Sustainable Development 2024