Green School New Zealand’s new, biophilic-inspired classroom and community building was celebrated recently with an official opening to bless the safe, innovative and inspirational space that will educate the school’s future changemakers.
Designed by Taranaki architecture firm, BOON, and brought to life by Livingstone Building, the Kina takes the concept of neuro-architecture, or designing to enhance cognitive function and emotional well being, and applies it to education in a way that sets a new benchmark for learning facilities.
The Kina’s carefully considered, intentionally curved shape inspires creativity and supports individual wellbeing, while its organic form and indoor-outdoor design creates a connection to the natural world that enhances the school’s focus on environmental action and sustainability.
GSNZ founder, Michael Perrett, believes neuro-architecture should be the starting point of every building design, especially schools, where our most precious community members – our children – are nurtured.
“Buildings can affect how we feel, they may even induce a physical response.
Humanity now knows how to build for joy or inspire through construction. Think about colourful art galleries, fanciful resorts or imposing castles. Typically, we do not think about how school buildings will impact children, but we should.”
Taking the curved form of a kina, a traditional seafood delicacy endemic to New Zealand, the flowing structure has eight rooms that currently host primary learners, office staff, and has both undercover and exposed outdoor spaces for play, performing arts, reading, learning and more.
Its shapes, tones, textures and layout produce calming waves of creativity and connection, while offering separation and solstice when required. From within the classrooms and sheltered courtyard are view shafts showcasing the outlook to the hills, river, Maunga Taranaki and campus surroundings.
Lead architect from BOON, Glenn Brebner, said it was important to continue the visual impact of natural, modern, soft form and curiosity-invoking objects in the landscape, which had been applied to the campus’ first three “waka” classrooms. The brief also called for experiential qualities that would cater to new arrivals and the younger students, while feeling welcoming and nurturing.
“As the design developed and we explored radial curves on the circular plane, the Kina metaphor took hold. We then embraced the form and patterns associated with this ubiquitous feature of coastal Aotearoa.”
By intentionally selecting shapes derived from nature, Perrett says Green School learners are immediately connected to the natural environment, making the school’s commitment to teaching sustainability and creating mindful learners much more purposeful.
“We hope our wall-less environment will inspire the out-of-the-box thinking we need in today’s world. We also believe we have to teach a sustainable future inside an example of sustainability. GSNZ teaches sustainability so we must do sustainability, and this has been shown through sustainable material selection, and innovative building techniques and products. GSNZ buildings have been by design faster to build, higher performing and less wasteful than most others by quite a margin — 60% less to landfill.”
Having been completed on budget and only a little over time in what is currently an extremely challenging New Zealand construction landscape, Perrett credits the many fantastic local businesses, contractors and sub-trades who have made it all happen.
“It has certainly been another chapter in the Green School journal, featuring many characters who have played a significant part in bringing this vision to life and providing our tamariki (children) with an inspiring place to learn, laugh and be inspired to thrive with purpose.”