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Te Awamutu kindy first for New Zealand

Te Awamutu Kindy first for New Zealand

The award-winning architect behind a new Te Awamutu childcare development says the energy efficient kindergarten will be the first of its kind in New Zealand.

Built using an innovative modular panel system, Creators@Waipa Christian kindergarten’s facility on Swarbrick Drive will take just eight weeks to complete.

Phil Smith, of Collingridge and Smith Architects, said the 170sqm prefabricated centre, built from coated insulated steel panels, leads the way in terms of energy efficiency and quick build time.

“It’s a modular build, kind of like giant Lego pieces, which means a very short construction period.

It’s exciting for us to be using this super-efficient system in New Zealand for the first time,” Mr Smith said.

Environmentally-focused childcare centre design is a hallmark of Mr Smith, who won the 2014 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority Innovation Award for Te Mirumiru Childhood Education Centre in Kawakawa.

The Northland centre was another first for New Zealand as the first commercial building to use an earth roof and bank as part of a passive heating and cooling system.

“We are expecting Creators to be a landmark in Te Awamutu, just like Te Mirumiru has become in Kawakawa.”

Energy-saving features of the Te Awamutu centre include natural ventilation, good insulation levels and low energy lighting. Non-toxic, low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials have been used in the centre, eliminating paints and other materials thought to trigger respiratory problems.

Photovoltaic panels on the roof produce most of the electricity needed to operate the building.

Creators’ director Rick Fourie said the $320,000 building, adjacent to Waipa Christian School, complements the organisation’s values-based approach to childcare.

“Phil’s design is excellent because it fits so well with the Creator’s ethos,” Mr Fourie said.

The centre’s $120,000 fit-out will feature Italian-made furniture and a natural playground, with design based on global Reggio Children Foundation research on children and space.

“We know design can have a profound influence on child development, learning and quality of play.

This fit-out provides a stimulating, beautiful environment for children.”

Creators@Waipa will be licensed for 40 children, have six teaching staff and offer 20 hours free early childhood education. The 20 free hours will include two-year-olds as well as the usual three-to-five year olds, as a service to the community, Mr Fourie said.

The first Creators childcare centre opened in Hamilton in 2010, with plans to open centres throughout New Zealand within the next few years. The organisation also offers home-based childcare through Creators @ Home.

The organisation is founded on Christian values and uses the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, where learning originates from the child’s ideas and interests.

“We’re very pleased to be bringing a new option for values-based childcare to Te Awamutu. We think it fills a niche and complements the good work of the Waipa Christian School and bible chapel.”

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