Manaia Kindergarten, Parua Bay, Whangarei

The brief for this preschool was very clear. It was to be a unique building, acting as a focal point for the rural community as well as providing an enhanced environment for the preschoolers, parents and staff enjoying the facility.

The need for easy visual supervision of the preschoolers during session times was an important element to factor into the design. This influenced the single open play space running through the building. The open space is then ‘divided’ into parts to provide separate play/teaching zones. The space is designed to be flexible so that the smaller zones can be rearranged by staff to suit their needs. The kitchen, bathrooms, office and utility rooms come off both sides of the central space resulting in a symmetrical elevation.

Every effort was made for the building to be as energy efficient as possible. The building was orientated for winter morning sun to enter into the play spaces. High level louvres provide excellent natural ventilation across the building. Low circular windows provide fun and scale for the children enabling them to look to the outdoor spaces.

The site has been benched to enable the building to sit low in the landscape and the ridge curved slightly to soften the lines of the building. The exterior colours of the building have low reflectivity values except for the outdoor play space where fun colour brightens the area.