Lincoln University opens new building

Opening of a major new building is a sign of recovery for Lincoln University, Anne Lee writes.

Lincoln University's new Waimarie Building.

Lincoln University’s much awaited, new $80 million building, Waimarie, has opened at a time when the university is on the up.

Student numbers have surpassed 4000 for the first time since 2006 and while most other tertiary institutions are still struggling with numbers following Covid, Lincoln has seen a 45% growth in its domestic student population since 2019 and a 9% jump since last year alone.

The university was badly affected by the Canterbury Earthquakes 12 years ago and the impressive new, earthquake-strong, building is the flagship in one of a suite of buildings, upgrades and restorations already completed or being carried out as part of the recovery and wider campus development programme.

Vice-chancellor Grant Edwards says the vision for the programme is to ensure the university is a campus of choice for students and staff.

“A place where people will grow their knowledge, an incubator of innovation and national hub for land-based teaching and research.”

Lincoln is on a sound financial footing and can boast the highest employment rate of all New Zealand universities with 84% of its graduates in paid employment when surveyed, Grant says.

Building a workforce with appropriate skills to grow a resilient, more productive economy while protecting and restoring the environment is at the heart of the university’s purpose, he says.

In 2022 there were 5955 primary sector-focused students enrolled in undergraduate, level seven study nationally.

“It sounds a lot but out of a total of 141,755 it is only 4.2%,” he says.

At level 10, just 180 (1.7%) of the country’s 10,000 PhD students are in the primary sector.

The sector’s need for highly skilled graduates to meet the challenges of the future will outstrip supply at those levels.

So, while numbers are up there’s more to be done and exciting potential for the university.

Grant says Lincoln’s multi-level strategy in attracting students and then supporting them so they are successful in their study is proving successful.

The new buildings and state of the art facilities are helping.

The 9450 square metre, two-story Waimarie replaces the earthquake-damaged Hilgendorf building and is in itself both a nod to the past and a showcase for cutting edge building technologies and sustainability.

It is fitted with 417 solar panels on the roof and walls adding 209kWp to bring the university’s total solar generation up to 802,000kWh – equivalent to the capacity needed to power 110 homes annually.

Rainwater is harvested to flush toilets in the bathrooms of the new building.

Water filtration and purification systems on the outside of the building coupled with other stormwater facilities all help improve water quality and reduce runoff to surrounding waterways.

The name Waimarie celebrates kā puna Waimarie, the bountiful lakes, which makes the efforts to ensure the new building works with and protects the valuable water resource even more poignant.

As well as protecting the resource itself, the building harnesses water as a sustainable energy source for heating and cooling.

Artesian water from an underground aquifer provides energy, working as geothermal heat pumps, before the water is returned to the aquifer. 

It is more energy efficient than conventional central heating/cooling systems and has lower carbon emissions.

The sustainability, and heating and cooling themes continue with wool insulation from 2000 sheep and 100% wool carpets.

New lecture rooms and state of the art laboratories are included in Waimarie with the lecture rooms no longer tiered.

The flat floors and movable, sectional desks provide greater accessibility and flexibility while a range of communication and teaching technologies grace the walls.

“Aotearoa New Zealand needs what goes on at this university and in this facility in partnership with others.”