All about thinking ‘outside the square’
The ability to tackle challenging projects and contributing to local communities are two hallmarks of Whangarei based civil and structural engineering company RS Eng Limited.
“We are a 100% locally owned company and our primary focus is on doing interesting projects well for our clients,” says one of the company directors Rachel Wright. “We also take a lot of pride in working with local authorities to develop key projects in the district,” she says.
A current project is a case in point: the Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Maori Art Gallery.
RS Eng is presently involved in the design phase of the project, which will see a very unique art and cultural facility taking centre stage in the city based around a concept designed by artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
The design itself is not only unique but will incorporate a forest of trees on the roof of the building.
Rachel says the complexity of engineering for those loads while ensuring clear spans in the gallery below is a key challenge of the project, which is currently in the building consent phase with foundations due to start in early 2018.
“We must also honour the artistic integrity of the design, making sure we are true to the artist’s original concept,” she says.
RS Eng had its beginnings in 1952 and as a company great pride is taken in being able to think outside the square and embrace new challenges, says Rachel.
“Our philosophy is to recognise the potential of ambitious ideas while maintaining the importance of a cost-effective solution. Be it a minor alteration to a residential house, a grand new commercial development or a radical new landmark, we will approach it with the same philosophy.”
It is the sheer variety of work the company is capable of completing that also sets it apart along with the fact RS Eng offers start-to-ﬁnish solutions for civil and structural projects.
Other seminal projects include the sail sculpture at the entrance to Whangarei and the Hihiaua wave and waka sculpture on Whangarei Harbour.
The latter project is a structure comprised of a concrete waka veneered with bluestone cantilevering out over the Whangarei Harbour with a ‘wave’ of massive limestone slabs breaking over its stern.
All this was supported on an array of driven timber piles to provide a solid support base in poor ground.
The project presented many unique challenges as there was no previous blueprint for this type of design, says Rachel.
“There were no standard parameters to work from. We had to test the rock and come up with the right solution including products for anchoring the components together and working with the contractor for temporary structural supports.”
The project won many awards including an Association of Consulting Engineers New Zealand (ACENZ) innovation community award.
Rachel credits the RS Eng team of 20 plus staff as being the key to being able to complete such complex projects. “The people we have are not conﬁned in their thinking and are able to think outside the box. “This allows us to take on unusual and challenging projects and come up with unique solutions.”
RS Eng is a member of ACENZ, the team’s qualiﬁed engineers are members of Engineering New Zealand (formerly IPENZ) and team members belong to societies associated with their areas of interest including the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, NZ Coastal Society and the New Zealand Geotechnical Society.
Other challenging projects completed by RS Eng include the Whangarei Harbour pedestrian foot bridge, which includes a turntable platform allowing the bridge to open up so boats can pass through, and the Te Kongahu Museum of Waitangi. It is typical of the diversity of projects the company undertakes.
RS Eng works New Zealand wide but predominantly north of Auckland. Rachel is joined in the company directorship by Max Haag and Steve Turner and all contribute signiﬁcant expertise.
Core business includes assessment of sites for residential development and on-site services design, residential house design and seismic assessment of commercial buildings.
“Our aim is to keep producing good projects for our clients, tackling tricky, interesting jobs that contribute to the landscape of Whangarei and Northland.”