The circular construction combines the application of ecological techniques with the Maori philosophy.
A nursery among the trees, very close to the beach and with a tailor-made architecture to offer pleasant spaces for the little ones. This is the “Kakapo Creek Nursery Garden”, located in Mairangi Bay, on the north coast of Auckland, New Zealand.
The managers of this private nursery believe that children’s best learning and memory take place outside, in nature. That’s why they’ve designed a space where the little ones can explore a mini forest on a daily basis, learn about New Zealand’s flora and fauna and, on special occasions, even take part in the bush camping experience. with a cabin and a campfire.
“The social, psychological, academic and physical health of a child is positively impacted when he is in daily contact with nature. Kakapo Creek’s environment is rich in nature with tall trees, shrubs, ferns and even our creek with its eels, fish and ducks.
Backed by scientific research, Kakapo Creek also follows the philosophy of getting dirty and feeling the mud between your toes. In addition to affirming that children learn best by playing. “But not just any game”, emphasizes the school: the game must be creative, natural and sustained.
There are also concerns about avoiding highly processed diets high in fat, sugar and chemicals. “We serve whole foods, healthy and tasty fruits and vegetables, and support the environment by using organic foods whenever possible and serving a plant-based menu,” explains the learning center.
Children over three years old can also take part in a short excursion to the “farm-forest”, a 1.2 hectare space (outside the school environment) where they can walk, explore the native forest and learn about animals. In space, the little ones also learn to grow vegetables and harvest organic fruit in the orchard.
Intended for children from 2 years old, the school offers the possibility for parents to bring their children from 0 to 2 years old to start frequenting the space – so that they can gradually integrate.
Based on the Maori Nga Hau E Wha concept, the design of the building is circular in shape. This creates a central space, where an outdoor play area has been installed, with four main classrooms arranged around it. Each room is fully glazed, allowing the connection between the interior and the exterior.
The school has a glulam roof and a green roof, further unifying the spaces and intertwining the building with the surrounding nature. The so-called “four winds” symbolize a meeting place for people of all backgrounds.
Developed by Collingridge and Smith Architects, the learning center also includes the following sustainable techniques:
- Natural ventilation through glass doors and windows.
- The large bay windows guarantee natural lighting throughout the day.
- Heating and cooling is provided by electric heat pumps concealed above the ceiling in the bathrooms – low cost and low carbon.
- All energy efficient LED lights
- Native plants with extensive gardens around the building and on the roof enhance biodiversity.
- The green roof reduces the accumulation of rainwater on the roof by more than 50%. Falling water is returned to the ground beneath the building, where it is cleaned by soil bacteria and gravel filters, and finally filtered before returning to the stream.
For this school, nature is like a “learning medicine that ignites creativity, curiosity, discovery”, sharpening the five senses.