LocationPalmerston North, New Zealand
From the architect. The school's vision is based on the principles of the children as raukura “kia tu ai hei raukura mo tona iwi” – “as high achievers who exemplify the hopes and aspirations of their people”.
The new school was envisaged as a guardian of this future identity. We developed a building form based on the concept of the Korowai or sheltering cloak and the tohu, the symbol of Mana Tamariki. We endeavoured to move away from more typical Wharenui references to reflect the unique approach to teaching space and teaching method. The project team incorporated the work of artist and educator Bob Jahnke, with extensive consultation on Tikanga Maori.
The under 5 area wraps itself around a contained outdoor courtyard and links into the kitchen and Wharekai (dining room) at the heart of the school. The school year children and young adults share a series of open classroom bays which wrap around a second courtyard backing the Huimanga (gathering space), which is the spiritual core of the school and its community. This room is used both as a hall for the school and as a space for the community for overnight stays and huis.
The main school links back to the crèche area as there is constant mixing between differing ages of students. The ceiling is envisaged as the underside of a cloak in layered panels of MDF and punched hardboard. The carpet was seen as a flax mat for the students who mainly learn sitting on the floor.
Sustainability features employed are: sustainably-sourced material selection; low-VOC linings, carpets and paints; stormwater reticulation into swales; high efficiency light fittings and natural ventilation.