Our brief was to create a unique and innovative early learning centre capturing the cultural and spiritual values of the area. Our starting point was the site itself which presented both the problem and the solution: the trees.
This makes the site uneconomic for most commercial uses but actually presents a unique and beautiful opportunity for an early learning centre.
For most developers the trees would have been a big problem, but for early childhood they provide a beautiful and symbolic solution. One is an English Oak tree, the other a native Pohutukawa, both of equal size and stature, standing side by side, their branches touching at the heart of the site. This symbolism forms the basis for the whakapapa of the site and its new use: a bi-cultural (and multicultural) early learning centre.
In the traditional Maori view, the trees also represent Tane who separated Rangi and Papa to create the world (of light). The design draws on this by creating a ‘void’ or space around the trees, which separates out the various elements of the new centre and provides a protective enclosure around the root zone.