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.