‘Kakapo Creek’ Kindergarten by CASA
‘Kakapo Creek’ is a start learning center up to 100 children in the heart of Mairangi Bay, Auckland, New Zealand. Directed by Collingridge and Smith Architects (CASA)the project is based on the Maori concept of Nga Hau E Wha, the four winds symbolizing a meeting place for people from all walks of life. CASA translated this notion into a circular building with a hole in the center to accommodate an outdoor play area with four primary classrooms arranged around it.
As with all other projects, the practice combines sustainability and wellness practices with architectural exploration to achieve holistic integrity. Read on to find out how.
all images © Mark Scowen
a curved volume connecting four classrooms to a central play area
Architects (see more here) derived the shape of ‘Kakapo Creek’ center of the creek’s shape at the boundary of the site on the north side, helping to root the building in its place. This sense of connection extends inward, with four fully glazed classrooms that open onto the playground, connecting inside and outside and between the rooms themselves. Such extensive glazing promotes natural ventilation and brings in plenty of daylight throughout the day, eliminating the need for artificial lighting or cooling.
with sustainability in mind, from floor to roof
The learning center is crowned with a glulam/ply timber canopy and green roof, further unifying the spaces below and blending the learning center into its natural surroundings. Otherwise, the green roof reduces rainwater on the roof by more than 50%; it is washed back into the ground under the building, where soil bacteria and gravel clean it before returning to the stream.
The learning center features a timber frame that curves around the play area where repurposed materials from existing homes make up the finish. The warm-toned structure is complemented by extensive landscaping with native plants, around the building and on the roof, to enhance biodiversity. The neat location of the building also meant that only three small trees were felled and were quickly replaced with new additions.
Other features that have helped achieve “zero carbon” goals include hpower and cooling provided by electric heat pumps concealed above the ceiling in the bathrooms; low power LED; low-emissivity glazing to reduce heat loss; and finally, roof and wall insulation well above the building code minimum.