CC F6 I9225 Edit HI 1

Green School - Kina


Boon Ltd

3. Commercial & public building design award

Photographed by: 
Charlotte Curd

With the lightest touches Green School New Zealand has transformed a 60 hectare farm into a place of deep learning. This educational environment inspires learners to find out about themselves, connect with their passions, community and their core purpose so they can learn and engage with optimism, inventiveness and joy.

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. 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.

While previous generations may have been familiar with a naughty corner in their classroom, this building design has removed nearly all corners and a modern soft form has been created to round off the students learning experiences. Curved timber shapes are predominant in the architecture and create an atmosphere that supports alternative out of the box thinking. When developing the concept, we explored nature inspired cluster forms such as interlocking hexagons of beehives, and radiating leaf and flower shapes. Common to each geometric system we looked at was an enclosing circular form with a central courtyard and sheltered outdoor learning space. As the design developed and we explored radial curves on the circular plane, the Kina metaphor took hold. We embraced the form and patterns associated with this ubiquitous feature of coastal Aotearoa and traditional sustenance / kai moana for Tangata whenua. By intentionally selecting shapes derived from nature, 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.

The composite structure of the building is predominantly timber and is made up of 24 curved structural members arranged in a circular form. An absolute minimum of concrete has been used- reserved only for the four atrium foundations, all others are timber driven piles. The floor structure is PLT panel, joinery is Accoya timber, decking is New Zealand beech and macrocarpa weatherboards are used on the external walls.

Each design decision has been made with acute respect to environmental qualities that matched the schools values. Consideration has been given to longevity of the building and how it will function sustainably in the varied west coast weather environment. It’s not just about using the most organic material but considering locale of material production and transportation of that material, plus what happens to it at the end of life. Selected materials need to perform well over time; reducing maintenance and waste from early deterioration.