Collingridge and Smith Architects (CASA) has designed an early childhood centre titled, Te Mirumiru Early Childhood Education Centre, nestled beneath the landscape in Kawakawa, New Zealand, the site was developed for Maori tribe, ngāti hine.

The building is to accommodate for the client’s children to teach them about their culture and customs whilst having a minimal impact on the environment. 

“Our 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 (whenua) in Maori also means placenta,” according to Collingridge and Smith Architects.

The design is conceived by shaping the building and its surrounding land into a womb-like form, imitating the anatomical process of a baby growing within a mother. 

“The building literally grows out of the land. The only opening to the building is along the north façade and reads as a cut in the earth.”

The symbolic representation of earth, mother, child and nature, bleeds into the representation of a “caesarean birth through which all of the clients take their lineage.”

“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.”

Exposed concrete construction, natural ventilation, solar hot water underfloor system and natural light with blackwater and clean nutrient rich water used to irrigate the green roof, are a few features of Te Mirumiru Early Childhood Education Centre.

The design has received a 6 Greenstar Education Rating from the New Zealand Green Building Council.