1303 Redcliffs Kindergarten

The design is intended to encourage discovery and help children to “see” and directly engage with environmental processes

Client: Kidsfirst Kindergartens

Location: Christchurch, New Zealand

Design: 2013

Program: Kindergarten and Plunket early childhood


Jaap Dankert, Ben Sutherland, Grant Douglas

Following the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010/11 a committed parent community group initiated this project to replace their destroyed kindergarten. The client Kidsfirst Kindergartens became involved and commissioned a new generation building for 30 children to embrace 21st century learning and low impact environmentally sustainable design.

The design is a simple rectangle laid out like a carpet in warp and weft zones to create a range of spatial choices including large flexible areas with small spaces either side for intimate informal learning areas between pods for services and support spaces. A large verandah and porch extend the learning spaces to connect directly with outside play spaces. Learning activity can switch modes between informal and formal learning by using these different spatial zones to support different learning experiences. The design is intended to encourage discovery and help children to “see” and directly engage with environmental processes to learn how to tune them in real time. For example roof mounted PV panels provide power to run the building with an energy management system to help kids and their parents learn how to manage these resources across different seasons. Children can directly activate lights themselves with pull cords, they can learn to re-use water harvested from the roof for play experiments, growing food, or reuse in toilets.

A unique innovation is the structural system which has been developed utilising CNC cut plywood in click-leaf and click-beam components to form a lattice of structure/networks assembled into S-curve pairs and clicked into transverse click-beam’s which together create strong diaphrams which also provide space for insulation, electrical and plumbing networks and furniture with integrated shelving, display or storage options. Cladding is a combination of insulated sandwich panels, polycarbonate skins, sliding walls and folding doors to form a subtle layering of translucent elements between inside and outside learning environments. The building is pre-fabricated off site on simple jigs into flat-pack panels or cassettes to improve quality of construction, minimise waste and reduce onsite assembly time.

Resource Planning Consent for the project has been granted and Construction is slated for mid 2014.