An early childhood education centre in Kawakawa, Northland, New Zealand has been named a finalist in the World Green Building Council’s (WorldGBC’s) inaugural Asia Pacific Regional Network Leadership Awards.
‘Te Mirumiru’, a bilingual childcare centre owned by the Ngati Hine Health Trust, was selected as a finalist from a field of 57 projects in the Asia Pacific region. It is vying with seven other buildings in Asia for the Leadership in Sustainable Design and Performance award.
Te Mirumiru was designed to represent the culture and values of the local Ngati Hine iwi, in which guardianship of the earth is deeply engrained. It is New Zealand’s first commercial earth bank building, and was designed by Phil Smith of CASA Architects.
“Te Mirumiru is an outstanding example of a building that not only accommodates the next generation, but also engages and educates children about their culture, customs and the environment,” says the WorldGBC’s Chief Executive Officer, Jane Henley.
The passive environmental design features include north-facing glazing to maximise solar gain in winter, and a super-insulated earth roof which results in minimal heat loss. The exposed concrete construction and natural ventilation enable passive cooling in summer, with minimal heating back-up in winter provided by a solar hot water underfloor system.
All spaces are naturally daylit and need no additional electrical lighting during the day. All rainwater is captured on site and used to irrigate the green roof. The result is a building that is 70 per cent more energy efficient than a similar code-compliant building.
The building achieved a 6 Green Star rating from the New Zealand Green Building Council –one of only three buildings in NZ to attain this, and the only Green Star-rated early childhood centre in the whole of Australasia.
Gwen Tepania-Palmer, Executive Chair of the Ngati Hine Health Trust said Te Mirumiru symbolises the hopes and aspirations that whanau have for their children and future generations.
“The gifts of knowledge and Maori culture for our precious children within an environment that recognises and reinforces the elements of nature and nurture in the physical, psychological and spiritual design of the building is important. Te Mirumiru holds a place of pride for our children, whanau and the wider community. The Board acknowledges all the many contributors and supporters for this important development - so the unexpected nomination for this international award is an honour which deserves to be celebrated and shared by many people.”
NZGBC Chief Executive Alex Cutler said Te Mirumiru was an inspirational building that was generating a ‘buzz’ in the industry.
“There is stiff competition for this award and it’s a huge accolade to even reach the finals. This demonstrates what an extraordinary building Te Mirumiru is – as well as a wonderful asset for the community and region.”