Between the ages of zero to five, a child’s brain is developing faster than at any other stage in their life – it is vital that their environment should support this development and foster the growth of creative and inquisitive young minds.
The New Shoots Children’s Centre embraces this philosophy – the centre has been designed to be a healthy, comfortable and beautiful environment that encourages imagination, creativity and discovery.
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 children’s 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.
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.
Facilities such as children’s 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.
Resene wood stains provided the perfect contrasting effect for the exterior, with the cedar cladding stained in Resene Waterborne Woodsman in Resene Dark Oak providing an elegant, understated back drop for the twisting Glulam pergola form. Internally, the palette is kept neutral with Resene Double Alabaster on walls and ceilings creating a bright but calming atmosphere. The interior features a natural colour scheme that allows the children’s artwork, along with natural textures and materials to stand out. Exterior walls are painted in Resene Zylone Sheen in dry areas and Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom in wet areas.
Because the stain for the exterior cladding was to be dark, the dark oak colour was chosen after communication between various consultants to ensure the cedar was resistant against significant thermal movement, despite its dark colour.
Resene Double Alabaster was also chosen for maximum reflectance inside – the paint bounces light through the classrooms, enhancing the effect of natural daylight.
Precast concrete walls are finished in Resene X-200 weathertight membrane.
Aligning with both the clients and architect’s design and sustainability philosophies, low and no added VOCs paints and wood stains have been selected for the entire building. This ensures spaces have a healthy and comfortable indoor environment.
Architectural specifier: CASA
Building contractor: Hayes Builders
Client: Oyster Capital
Interior designer: Chloe Forsman
Other key contributor: Natural Habitats
Photographer: Mark Scowen
Structural Engineer: Markplan
Tenant: New Shoots
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2019
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