Te Whare Nui o Tuteata

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

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 the new Eastwood café.

The building is named “Te Whare Nui o Tuteata” gifted by Ngā Hapū e Toru who hold mana over the whenua. The name Te Whare Nui o Tuteata acknowledges the mana of the tupuna Tuteata, from whom Ngā Hapū e Toru descend and the connection to the whenua, Titokorangi.

Opening hours

Eastwood café and the science exhibition are open Sunday to Thursday 8:00 am - 4:00 pm, Friday and Saturday 8:00 am - 8:00 pm.

Scion reception is open during office hours Monday to Friday.

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. For more information read 'Scion Hub: A three-storey seismically resilient diagrid'
  • 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.

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.