Copeland Associates Architects 3 New Shoots Hillcrest

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Barry Copeland
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
    Barry Copeland
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Tuhiena Bhaumik, Marco Duthie, Franklin Mwanza, Sienna Kim, Tanya Poletayeva
  • Kaitautoko / Contributors
    Chloe Forsman (Furniture and Interiors), Peak Construction, MarkPlan, eCubed Building Workshop, Enhance Lighting, Amanda Aitken (videographer and photographer)
  • Client
    New Shoots

On a city fringe site close to central Auckland this new early childhood education centre for 125 children has been grafted into the shell of a neglected forty year old single-storey industrial training unit. Although in a commercial zone, the building is ideally located close to several established residential areas, where facilities and resources for young families were in short supply and strong demand. The project thus provided the opportunity to attractively re-purpose an unloved existing property of otherwise limited value.

Faced by a deep-plan square building with a trapped-in internal courtyard, low suspended ceiling, labyrinthine internal layout and poor lighting, a radical approach was needed. The entire existing internal fit-out was to be removed to reveal the bare bones of the structure. The challenge then was to open up the building to sunlight and provide the essential connectivity between inside and outside spaces.

A number of interventions have been employed: A corner of the existing building was transected to connect the internal courtyard to the exterior, creating a link and viewshaft between play spaces and bringing more natural light into the courtyard. The courtyard was enlarged by pushing back outdoor walls to create sheltered generous all-weather play areas under the existing roofline. The existing window openings were kept, but many were cut through to ground level so glazed doors could be installed. Verandas were added to the north and west sides of the building to provide covered outdoor play space and also sun-screening to the windows.

The added verandas with translucent canopies introduce a colourful architectural element seen against the now white-washed brickwork, helping the building find its place within a new playful landscape. The whole site has been transformed into a joyful, stimulating and exciting environment for young children.

Inside the building, removal of the old suspended ceiling revealed the sloping roof structure, enabling the ceiling to be lifted and lined with acoustic panels to form high airy teaching and activity spaces. These are integrated with the children’s sleeping and bathroom areas. Administration and support zones include generous resources storage, home-kitchen, laundry, office, staff breakout and training spaces.

In today’s world the imperative is to wherever possible reuse existing building stock to conserve embodied energy and reduce carbon transmissions. This project is not only economically successful and environmentally sustainable, but this vibrant new Early Childhood Centre has injected new life into a tired neighborhood.