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New Zealand children’s centre picks up top green rating

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Collingridge and Smith Architects’ 572m² children’s centre has achieved New Zealand’s highest sustainability rating

The $NZ 2.2million Te Mirumiru childcare centre has been awarded the highest Green Star rating of six stars.

The practice which has offices in both Cumbria and Auckland completed the children’s centre back in 2012.

The building features a number of sustainable features; all glazing is north facing for maximum solar gain, the walls and roof are super-insulated, and the building is naturally ventilated.

Consisting of four classrooms, and a shared space containing an office, kitchen and staff room and toilets, the building’s linear form is buried in the surrounding earth.

The Green Star rating launched in 2007, had has since certified just 100 offices, schools and industrial buildings.

Collingridge and Smith's Te Mirumiru children's centre

The architect’s view

‘Our concept set out to capture the genius loci, the Spirit of the Place. The result, Te Whare Whenua (house of earth) recalls Maori tradition that all life is born from Papatuanuku (earth mother) under the sea, the islands of New Zealand seen as placentas from her womb. The word whenua means both land and placenta and is a fundamental concept in Maori tradition, tying each person to their birthplace through a custom of burying their placenta in the earth.

‘Our design is conceived by shaping the land into a womb-like form, with the building forming just like a baby within: the building literally grows out of the swampy land around.

‘Harnessing the natural environment, the design uses natural ventilation and mass to cool, sun to heat and daylight to light it, whilst the grass roof and bank blend seamlessly into the natural ecology.’

Collingridge and Smith's Te Mirumiru children's centre

Project data

Location Kawakawa, Northland, New Zealand
Type of project Early childhood centre
Client Ngati Hine Health Trust
Architect Collingridge and Smith Architects (CASA)
Structural engineer McNaughton Consulting Engineers
M&E consultant Eco Design Consultants and WSP
Quantity surveyor Kwanto
Planning supervisor Simon Yates
Lighting consultant Mike Renwick, Lighthouse Remuera
Main contractor Howard Harnett Builders
Funding Government and private
Tender date April 2011
Start on site date June 2011
Completion date January 2012
Contract duration 8 months
Gross internal floor area 572m²
Form of contract and/or procurement Negotiated contract
Total cost NZ $ 2.2million
Annual predicted CO2 emissions 8.1kg CO2/m²/year
Specific environmental targets NZ GBC 6 Green Stars

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Readers' comments (1)

  • great to see there's not a single step: why would you need one when you are mostly speeding about on wheeled toys? Now lets see if we can design spaces like this for wheelchair users too

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