University of Auckland Faculty of Engineering

Architect: Jasmax Architects

The B405 building is the most complex building the University of Auckland has ever developed. The 32,000m² building is in the university’s city campus and provides the Faculty of Engineering Te Herenga Mātai Pūkaha with energy-efficient research and learning facility designed to inspire future generations of Engineers.

The $220 million project that opened in 2020, represents a progressive change for the university, enabling all five engineering departments to come together in a dedicated precinct. Connecting the old and new, B405 is flexible and future focused existing as an engine for generating innovation. It does this through maximising student exposure to a rich universe of specialist expertise, technology, and world-leading processes. 

At 114m long, 42m wide and 12 storeys high, a key strategic goal of the project was to maximise site coverage and achieving high space utilisation rates while creating a bespoke building that is guaranteed to last for the intended 80-year life cycle.

The dramatic eastern elevation offers a unique, high-tech presence viewed from key vantage points within Parnell, the Domain, and the Motorway. The arrangement of the aluminium sunshades protects the interior while maintaining panoramic views. The west-face Symonds Street zinc-clad façade is solid, with discrete windows that provide environmental control to protect the laboratories from the afternoon sun.

The B405 simultaneously connects and opens the Sector 400N precinct. For the first time in 20 years, the university’s five engineering departments will share a building unlocking the powerful potential for new learning pathways and research innovation.

Natural light is drawn deep into the building and adjacent atrium, reflecting the university’s intent to energise the environment and activity within. The north-facing entry establishes a new gateway into the faculty and above this, a double-height mezzanine with cascading terraces provides a popular student hangout overlooking the street. Teaching labs are accessed off wide public arteries which positions social learning at the heart of the academic experience. Lecture theatres, breakout and collaboration spaces are arranged across various levels; fostering constant movement that further energises the energy of the sector. 

The lowest five levels are home to five types of ‘plug and play’ modular teaching laboratories and these 26 labs cater to the wide spectrum of core engineering disciplines. 

The upper six levels are home to 28 research laboratory spaces supporting 40 distinct research streams and alongside these we have: specialized support facilities, post-graduate, staff collaboration and write-up zones. 

Visitors and students alike are encouraged to see into laboratories through large openings which are often fire-rated and acoustic or even impact resistant. This is to foster a faculty-wide culture of curiosity which promotes a culture of safety with high visibility between lab users and technical support staff spaces. 

This building demonstrates advanced seismic design as well as energy efficiency and will be supporting engineering research and learning for years to come. 

The design of the B405 reinforces the principles of, collegiality, learning, visibility, and innovation. It aids learning in the exposed and expressed building components and building activities making visible the feats of engineering innovation within.