Wilson Special Needs School

Wilson School is the first purpose-built Special Needs School in New Zealand, providing educational care for children with severe mental and physical disability. The school is located a tranquil and serene site in a well established park-like setting.

The building connects quietly to the landscape, indulging in the calm, tranquil and serene essence of it. It expresses a close relationship to nature without overwhelming it. The building with its simple form in timber and glass, lies subservient to and beneath the surrounding trees and landscaping, and is therapeutic and calming for the users.

There is a strong notion of ‘support’ as a key idea for the form of the building. This idea is expressed through the dialogue between the 2 key forms. The amazing ‘support system’ that the staff provide, was seen as the inspiration behind the building. The building stands, like a monument, as a tribute to the value of their work and contribution to the community, and also to the challenges faced by the students who attend this school. 

By expressing the aesthetics and function through simple form, layout and material palette, the new school enjoys a building which expresses quality and substance achieved on a relatively modest budget.