Acclaimed New Zealand building combines green design and Maori culture

An innovative centre for child care in New Zealand, known as Te Mirumiru, has won through to the finals of the EECA Awards for 2014.

The awards, provided by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, a New Zealand government agency, honour projects that achieve greater energy efficiency and make the best use of renewable sources.

Te Mirumiru was created for the use of Maori children, so many of the elements of the building’s design have been inspired by the group’s symbolism.

The centre is shaped to appear as if it is growing out of the earth, with a grass-covered roof sweeping over the entire structure. Underground caves and womb-like forms fit well with themes traditionally seen in Maori architecture.

Each of the centre’s architectural features also has an environmental advantage. The earth roof has excellent properties for insulation and its grass filters rainwater, reducing the amount entering storm sewers. The building’s arched shape helps to keep air circulating inside and the overhanging roof provides shelter from the sun.

Floor-to-ceiling windows mean that natural light is all that is needed to brighten Te Mirumiru’s interior. Ventilation occurs naturally in summer and, in the winter, solar-powered underfloor heating keeps the building’s occupants warm.

With more people becoming concerned about the environment, and Chester residents having faced the effects of the environment already this year, the importance of designing energy efficient buildings is increasing. A Chester architect who has experience in designing structures that have the environment in mind will be ideally placed to advise those who are planning projects locally.

Posted by Adam Lloyd
April 10, 2014

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