Project Description

New Shoots Children’s Centre, Whenuapai

Located in the residential development of Whenuapai, Auckland, the New Shoots Children’s centre is licensed for 90 children, providing the growing community with a high-quality Early Learning Centre for the care and nurture of infants through to pre-schoolers.

The long narrow site lent itself easily to a simple form and plan, with a structured walkway placed along the length of the building. The low-slung form, with a restrained material palette of cedar cladding and aluminium joinery is bought to life with the Glulam pergola structure that revolves along timber walkways. The dynamic structure is inspired by the classic game of hide and seek, with timber posts creating interactive spaces that children can hide behind and run in and out of. The twisting timber tunnel playfully bridges the space between the classroom and the outdoors, and the building becomes part of the childrens play experience.

In addition to creating playful and interactive spaces, the centre places sustainability and healthy indoor environments at the forefront of design. Children and staff can often spend up to 11 hours a day in the centre, so it is important that these are healthy, comfortable spaces. Floor-to-ceiling glazing allows for much-needed daylight to penetrate deep into the interior, keeping the building warm during winter months, assisted by the thermal mass of exposed concrete floors. In summer, the whole building can be opened up to keep spaces fresh and cool, with natural ventilation reaching well above the minimum requirements.

Interior spaces have been carefully considered, with state-of-the-art facilities and bespoke furniture designed and arranged to create intimate and inspiring learning spaces for all ages. Colour and geometry are artfully combined with natural materials and textures, creating unique and inviting classrooms that are filled with curated toys and nature-inspired learning resources. Low VOC materials have been specified throughout the centre to ensure a healthy indoor air quality.

Facilities such as childrens bathrooms have been given just as much thought, with generously sized spaces that feature miniature sized bathroom-ware for little ones. Bespoke detailing paired with a soft, natural material palette brings to life what can often be a mundane and forgotten about space.

Integrating seamlessly with the building, the landscape and playground feature a variety of natural materials to encourage sensory experiences and learning. Slabs of stone are scattered through streams of running water, which are surrounded by pockets of grass and sandpits. Bridges and pathways are made from natural pine posts, which integrate perfectly with the twisting glulam frame that follows the edge of the playground.

Facts + Figures

Client: New Shoots Children’s Centre and
Whenuapai Land Company

Location: Whenuapai, Auckland, New Zealand

Construction cost: Confidential
Area: 630m²
Programme: Completed 2018

Project Team: Phil Smith, Evan Crighton,
Akash Kumar

Construction: Hayes Builders Ltd
Landscaper: Natural Habitats

Image Credit: Mark Scowen

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