Project Description

Saint Kentigern Preschool, Remuera

The project brief was to create a unique early childhood centre that would inspire children to develop confidence and humility through a sense of community.

A detailed site analysis looked at possible locations for the building within the school. Access and car parking requirements indicated the optimal location, further reinforced by the extensive bush-lined outlook on three sides.

Studies looked at built form options, taking into account all the site constraints. The main drivers to the form were retaining the mature trees and bush, protecting neighbours from direct playground noise, balancing ground contours and solar access/shading. Two options were narrowed down for further development, with the final circular form being chosen for its merits in answering the brief and the site constraints.

Whilst the initial form was largely driven by the site and programme, the development of the form into an architectural language looked at the history and culture of Saint Kentigern for inspiration.

The circular shape of the building was inspired by early Christian architecture – the most famous being the Church of the Holy Sepulchre featuring a rotunda called the Anastasis. Furthermore, it symbolises one of the four miracles of Saint Kentigern: the ring found in the fish and the Celtic Cross of Saint Kentigern.

The scale and materiality of the design also take inspiration from early Christian architecture – being single level, narrow width and harnessing natural ventilation and daylighting. The structure features exposed timber beams and ceilings along with clerestory windows to capture the ‘spirit’ of the early churches.

Christian symbolism has then been carried through into the playground, where it has been split into quarters within the circular form, each quarter representing one of the four miracles of Saint Kentigern. Equally, this further reinforces the shape of the Celtic Cross formed by the shape of the building. Building on this, four dry stream beds form a cross shape in the central playground (which also become water features for children’s play), symbolising the four tributaries of the Garden of Eden that come together at the centre to present a standing cross.

Facts + Figures

Client: Saint Kentigern School
Location: Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand

Construction cost: Confidential
Area: 665m²
Programme: In progress

Project Team: Phil Smith, James Browning, Djordje Petkovic, Bhumika Mistry

Construction: Aspec Construction
Landscape Design: Collingridge and Smith
Landscaper: Natural Habitats

Interiors: Collingridge and Smith
Joinery: Guyco Joinery

Renders: Collingridge and Smith

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