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Ravensdown Corporate Office by Naylor Love Construction and Stufkens & Chambers Architects

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Offices for Ravensdown Fertiliser Co-operative combine a green ethos with a high-profile design – LVL structure and detailing by Nelson Pine Industries Ltd

Ravensdown Corporate Office by Naylor Love Construction and Stufkens & Chambers Architects

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With a post-quake scenario of no premises, Christchurch-based Ravensdown wanted its new offices to offer a harmonious, practical working environment for staff. The building needed to have high quality materials and detailing, while reinforcing the firm's profile as a grass roots agri-business.

Naylor Love was engaged to provide the design and build solution, says the company's project manager on this job, Daryl Strawbridge.

"In partnership with Stufkens + Chambers Architects, we designed a building that responds intrinsically to the client's brief and fulfils the design, operational and environmental objectives."

The resulting head office building is highly durable and easily maintained, with a mix of polished concrete, acrylics, natural timber finishes through to plywood and LVL portal frames.

"Essentially, we achieved the aesthetic look required through a beautiful yet practical mix of traditional finishes and contemporary detailing."

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As a flagship for Ravensdown's rebranding, the building had to have a strong people focus – for both visitors and staff, says Marcus Stufkens, design director at Stufkens + Chambers Architects.

"Their brand and product focus influenced both the building and interiors. We wanted to reflect the organic nature and vibrancy of the company and its values. The T-shaped building has reception at the junction, reinforcing that the customer is central to all they do. Here, farming imagery, and translucent panels echo the coloured slatting to the exterior; a subtle reference to lush fields and grass – the heart of the business," says Stufkens. "From the entry, staff or visitors move into hall-like interiors where the exposed wood portals reflect the building's structural strength – a reassuring and pleasing sight given Christchurch's post-quake environment."

These open, airy office volumes are high stud with sophisticated acoustics to optimise comfort for the 140 plus staff that comprise the company's six plus business sections.

The café seats over 50 and is on the sheltered side of the structure, with giant sliding doors gliding back to make the courtyard and indoors one.

The interiors feature wood structure and detailing that reflect a crafted input appropriate for a thriving grass-roots agricultural business, says Andrew Van Houtte, LVL projects manager for Nelson Pine Industries, the company that supplied and installed several engineered wood products for the project.

"Our role was varied for Ravensdown. It included the supply of the Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) structural components, portals, gussets and purlins – all cut to shape. We also supplied the spray nail pattern for the gusset plates and the factory-fitted gussets to portal legs. Components were finished to a high degree and exterior elements given a LignaGuard weather protection coating."

The LVL finishes were an important part of the look. The LVL portals are made from relaminated 45mm billets of LVL. These are pressed together using resin-and-hardener resorcinal adhesive prior to being CNC cut with Nelson Pine Industries' K2i Hundegger joinery machine. These were shop drawn as 3D images prior to machining.

"We used crossbanded LVL for the gussets for enhanced nailing capacity and dimensional stability when exposed to the elements," Van Houtte says.

First published date: 11 December 2015

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