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Green Star building fit for growing minds

Green Star building fit for growing minds
Peacocks Early Learning Centre, Auckland’s first Green Star-rated childcare centre.

Peacocks Early Learning Centre is set to open a brand new 800 square metre facility in Mt Wellington, Auckland that will be the country’s first Green Star-rated childcare centre, says company project manager Nitin Bhatia.

Located in Stonefields, the centre is being constructed from recycled concrete. It will have a rainwater tank, with harvested water used in the toilets, and 89 solar panels on the roof.

No plastic has been used in the build with plumbing supplied by Rehau. Other environmentally friendly features include taps by Dyson that feature an air dryer effectively eliminating the need for paper towels in some of the toilets.

During the build, waste has been separated for recycling where possible. The aim is for a six Green Star rated building, says Nitin citing the many special challenges of constructing such a building.

“For example there was six months of testing for the roof to ensure the water run off was of suitable quality to be used in the building,” he says.

Designed by Collingridge and Smith Architects, Peacocks Early Learning Centre in Stonefields will cater for 100 children and will be split into four rooms on the ground floor with an administration space above.

From a design perspective the building has been broken down externally into transparent, semi-transparent and solid elevations in order to create pathways between car park and entrance, defining public and private spaces.

A special feature of the building is an atelier, which reflects the influence of Reggio Emilia, a child-led approach to early childhood education that utilises self-directed, experiential learning in relationship-driven environments.

Ateliers or art studios are an integral part of that process, a place where students can come to create, explore and experience.

Other unique features in the building that support this philosophy include a large fish tank, which Nitin says is the largest fish tank in Auckland apart from those found at Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium.

Green Star building fit for growing minds

Peacocks is a Reggio Emilia inspired learning centre that provides education and care for children aged three months to five years old.

The Reggio Emilia approach, which began after the Second World War, focuses on empowering children to learn. It began when a small group of parents in Italy got together to seek a different way of educating their children.

Relationships are the cornerstone of the approach and collaboration between children, teachers and parents is of paramount importance.

The aesthetics of the classroom are another key aspect and the environment is often referred to as the ‘third teacher’ as it is believed that the environment influences children’s development by either helping or hindering the learning process.

The environment of Peacocks’ classrooms have been constructed to encourage interaction and communication, creative expression, safe risktaking and social responsibility, which support a collaborative, problem-solving approach to learning.

Nitin says that the company’s mission is to foster children’s meaningful learning and wellbeing, building upon their innate curiosity and imagination.

“We think of Peacocks Early Learning Centre as a large extended whanau (family), embracing tamariki (children), parents, kaiako (teachers) and all other staff members. We endeavour to provide an environment that creates, inspires and supports children to think, wonder, be challenged, investigate further and research their working theories of the world around them,” he explains.

Peacocks implements Te Whariki, the New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum as this aligns with the Reggio Emila approach to teaching.

Nature education is another focus, both for the scope of learning it provides and to contribute to sustainable environments. Peacocks Early Learning Centre are also located in St Lukes, Ellerslie and Epsom.

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