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Whenua, Kawakawa, New Zealand

Tuesday 09 Feb 2010

Learning from the roots up

Whenua by Phil Smith Architect (UK) in Kawakawa, New Zealand
Whenua by Phil Smith Architect (UK) in Kawakawa, New Zealand Whenua by Phil Smith Architect (UK) in Kawakawa, New Zealand Whenua by Phil Smith Architect (UK) in Kawakawa, New Zealand Whenua by Phil Smith Architect (UK) in Kawakawa, New Zealand
Your comments on this project

No. of Comments: 19

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11/04/10 Ludene, Auckland
Kia ora Ngatihine. Combining Te Ao M%u0101ori into the whole symbolic outlook and kaupapa of a building is an awesome concept. It truly sets the scene for an inclusive encompassing educational setting.
08/04/10 Christine Kerr, Kawakawa
What a striking innovative design.Designed to be fully functional for the children to enjoy being in, as a valid part of their learning experience. Truly culturally inspired and naturally significant. Light flow and dirt roof with black water irrigation. Ngati Hine are leading the way. Well done
08/04/10 Glen Kerr, Kawakawa
Great design concept. A great way to teach future generations and provide a true understanding of their culture and the world around them with this magnificent education centre
07/04/10 Daniel, Auckland
As a New Zealander with proud Maori heritage I would have to say that it is very impressive that our culture has been considered, interpreted and incorporated into a built space. My Eurpopean Grandparents grew up in the area and a project like this will breathe life into the area for everyone. It will provide a foundation for the community to share regardless of background. Not only does the project look like it is integrated into the land the green roof and onsite treatment will educate everyone in sustainability and resource management. GOOD LUCK!
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07/04/10 Valmae, Kawakawa
Awesome Whare, There are going to be some lucky tamariki that will be learning in this facility, and such great thought gone into the design, it will have such a strong mauri with all these aspects of our local area incorporated, hopefully it will inspire more movement towards blending with our natural environment, instead of imposing on it.
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07/04/10 Johnson Davis, Kawakawa
Congratulations to Ngati Hine and the architects for developing such a unique and fabulous facility founded on cultural significance and values
07/04/10 Nora, Whangarei
Absolutely beautiful, the vision and thought to create such a complex intergrated with a strong kaupapa has to lead the way for Ngati Hine and the future generations.
07/04/10 Celina Stratton, Whangarei
This is fantastic, not only a building to be proud of for its eco friendly design but a great way to impart some of our history. A place our tamariki can be proud of. Well done Phil Smith.
07/04/10 Riki, Brisbane
WOW! I really like the history and symbolism behind this project.
07/04/10 Erima, Poneke
Ka mau te wehi ki nga hobbits o Ngati Hine. He autaia te kaupapa kei muri i tenei whare. Ko te huatau o te ngakau, ka pera ano nga hua kumara ka puta mai i te koopu o Hineamaru.
Kei runga noa atu!!!!!!!!
(written in Maori, the language the Ngati Hine use.)

I stand in awe of the hobbits from Ngati Hine. The tribal history behind this concept is just out of this world and is appropriately reflected in the design. I hope that the education that these descendants of Hineamaru will receive while in this centre will more than eclipse the beauty of its design.
It is fantastic!!!
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Award Entry

Design for new Maori childcare is both ecologically and socially sustainable 

This design is an early childhood building for a Maori tribe (Ngāti Hine) in Kawakawa, New Zealand. The brief called for a building which would not only accommodate the tribe's new mokopuna (generation) but teach them about their culture and customs on a daily basis whilst having a minimal impact on the environment.

The concept for the building is based on the Maori tradition that all life is born from the womb of Papatūānuku (earth mother), under the sea; the word for land in Maori also means placenta. The design is conceived by shaping the land into a womb-like form, with the building forming just like a baby within; the building literally grows out of the land.

The only opening to the building is along the north facade, and reads as a cut in the earth. This cut symbolically represents the caesarian birth through which all of the tribe take their lineage; their ancestor Hine ā Maru was the first recorded Maori woman to deliver a child by caesarian section and survive the procedure about 600 years ago. It is from this opening that the children symbolically enter the ‘world of light’, where they play. A circular moat isolates the ‘womb-like form’ as an island, relating back to the tradition that all land is born from under the sea. A bridge is formed to give access to the island, which is symbolically shaped into the tribal waka (canoe) Ngātokimatawhaorua, representing the journey of the tribe's forefathers from Hawaiki to Aotearoa (NZ).

The earth that mounds up over the building makes reference to Ngāti Hine-pukerau (Ngāti Hine of a hundred hills). The interior, below the earth, represents the nearby Waiomio caves where the ancestors lay buried and the Ruapekapeka pā (fortification) where the ancestor Kawiti cleverly used underground shelters as defence from attack. The circular form and ditch of the design also draws inspiration from traditional pā.

It was equally important to integrate passive environmental design features into the building, so all ‘symbolic’ features have many environmental purposes: all glazing is oriented to the north for maximum solar gain, whilst the super-insulated earth roof results in minimal heat loss, which is further assisted by the unheated circulation space placed to the south. For further internal comfort, exposed concrete construction and natural ventilation allows the building to be passively cooled in summer, with minimal heating back-up in winter provided by a solar hot water underfloor system. All spaces are naturally daylit and will need no additional electrical lighting during the daytime. All blackwater is treated on site and the clean nutrient rich water is used to irrigate the green roof. The building will be submitted for a Green Star rating and it is anticipated that it could achieve 6 stars.

Key Facts

Status Planning
Value 0(m€)
Phil Smith Architect (UK)
WIN Awards 2016
WAN Business Information

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