Architecture Workshop (AW) were appointed in 2007 by the internationally renowned French cuisine school, Le Cordon Bleu (LCB) in partnership with the Palmerston North based Universal College of Learning (UCOL) to masterplan a 300-student cuisine school and 90-bed student accommodation campus within an existing Martinborough vineyard.
The UCOL initiative was to involve the rural community and draw students to the rural region with an internationally recognised epicurean qualification that would combine new world produce with old world gastronomic traditions and stimulate the regional economy of the Wairarapa. The school design derived from the traditional Maori hospitality rituals surrounding the Hakari stage; a long 50 -60 feet high structure was erected for great Maori celebrations held at the Bay of Islands in 1849. After feasting over several days, the platforms were used to entertain with kapahaka. The early (1100-1200AD) Maori kumara gardens delineated by stonewalls on the Wairarapa coast at Cape Palliser were the inspiration for the campus courtyard house typology. After the RMA planning stage in 2009, a detailed feasibility of a regional campus was completed and the project was relocated to central Wellington.