Designing Schools in New Zealand — Structural and Geotechnical Guidelines

The Designing Schools in New Zealand — Structural and Geotechnical Guidelines set out the Ministry’s requirements for the structural and geotechnical aspects of designing and assessing school buildings.

The guidelines have been endorsed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. They establish clear and consistent overall design philosophies. Complying with the guidelines is mandatory.

Download the guidelines

Designing Schools in New Zealand - Structural and Geotechnical Guidelines [PDF, 1.4 MB]

Purpose of the guidelines

The guidelines help all working on school building assessment and design to deliver educational buildings that are fit for purpose. Within an engineering context, this means:

  • ensuring efficient and economic design and construction practices are incorporated in:
    • new school building design
    • the assessment, repair and retrofit of existing school buildings
  • providing guidance on the preferred design of school buildings to achieve more resilient outcomes in future natural disaster events
  • advising where departures from conventional design are needed for specific performance requirements
  • highlighting particular aspects of the historical performance of school buildings that designers should take into account in both the design of new school buildings and the repair and adaptation of existing school buildings.

Using the guidelines

These guidelines form part of the Education Infrastructure Design Guidance Documents that designers, along with structural and geotechnical engineers, must refer to when undertaking work on school buildings.

Education Infrastructure Design Guidance Documents

Those who lead and co-ordinate design work, like architects and project managers, should also be familiar with the scope and purpose of the guidelines.

For matters that are important to the Ministry and school occupants, more specific guidance covering the key engineering design aspects is included, for both new school buildings and the assessment and upgrade of existing buildings.

The guidelines are organised in sections to highlight where our requirements exceed the New Zealand Building Code. They advise how certain provisions of the Building Code should be applied to school buildings.

Versions and feedback

The guidelines will continue to be updated in response to both technical developments and feedback from stakeholders. We are constantly seeking to improve the usability of our guidelines. Ensure you download the latest version of the guidelines from this page.

If anything in this document requires clarification email:

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback