Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Chrysalis Childcare Centre in Avondale, New Zealand by Collingridge and Smith Architects
December 3rd, 2017 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Collingridge and Smith Architects
Chrysalis Early Learning Center is an innovative early education and play center for 150 children, drawing on the culture and spirit of its place to create a nurturing environment around two mature heritage trees.
Our brief was to create a unique and innovative childcare, capturing the cultural and spiritual values of the area. Our starting point was the site itself which presented both the problem and the solution: the trees.
The existing protected trees provided beautiful and symbolic inspiration – one is an English Oak, the other a native Pohutukawa, both of equal size and stature, standing side by side, their branches touching at the heart of the site. This symbolism forms the basis for the whakapapa (genealogy) of the site and its new use: a bicultural, and multicultural childcare.
In the traditional Maori view, the trees also symbolise Tane (god of the forest) who separated Rangi (sky father), and Papa (earth mother) to create the world (of light). The design draws on this by creating a ‘void’ or space around the trees, which separates out the various elements of the new center and provides a protective enclosure around the root zone. The building represents Papa who was locked in a tight embrace with Rangi and so the graceful curve of the building appears like two arms reaching out to the sky. The elevational form further enhances this effect by keeping a respectful height below the trees, allowing good views of them from the wider environment.
Further symbolism can be found throughout, the most striking being the overlapping sail forms around the building. These are based on traditional Maori sails but honor all cultures of New Zealand, all of whom originally made the journey here by sailing boats. The layered effect of the overlapping sails also recalls traditional carving patterns whilst the curve of the building represents the Koru or unfurled fern frond.
The building design also naturally integrates sustainable design. Within the building the kitchen has been placed at the heart of the building open to two classroom and the main reception where it engages the children in the preparation of their food and welcome parents to sit down, have a coffee and chat. The classrooms were all design overlooking the playground through large glass sliders to ensure full indoor-outdoor flow and unobstructed views. All floor plate depths have been kept to ideal standards for natural light penetration and along the spine of the larger rooms are full height vertical windows to maximise natural ventilation. Other sustainable features include: