One of the things Kidsfirst Kindergartens is most proud of with the new Kidsfirst Diamond Harbour building is its commitment to the environment and sustainability.
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At the new centre there will be those all-important opportunities for exploration, adventure and challenge, with the chance to play and inspire the imagination. By design, Kidsfirst environments have always had large and well-resourced natural outdoor areas which are interesting and exciting places for adventure and play.
Both indoors and out the environments reflect our bicultural community and are a place where children are encouraged to think critically, enquire and wonder about their world. Where children are provided with challenges, intellectual stimulation and opportunities to take risks safely, as well as social support - all appropriate to their age and abilities.
The centre was purpose-built and designed by Opus Architects, who made sure that the changing needs and values of 21st century learners were accommodated.
Being a building for young children, Opus Architect Kate Loader was incredibly aware of the environmental impact it would have. "They are the next generation and it’s impossible to think of designing and building their centre without considering the impact the building may have on the world that the children will grow up in, and our responsibility for that," she says.
Some of its unique features include architecture that is designed to lend itself to the natural landscape it sits on, and there are transitional learning environments created with a range of adaptable internal and external spaces.
There is a simple graphic tool incorporated into the middle of the learning space, which will demonstrate the power generation and usage of the kindergarten to the children.
It has a focus on natural and renewable building materials:
The space is be efficiently heated with underfloor heating and sheep’s wool-blend insulation in the walls.
To make it environmentally sustainable and to keep the environment in mind “seemed like the only option when designing this building,” according to Kate.
“To families these days, sustainability is just so important.”
The building is aiming to be net-zero energy, with any surplus that is generated being donated back to Diamond Harbour School. Normally the power goes back to the grid with money being earned for it, but this energy generation is a way for the kindergarten to give back to the school.
Because they are on the same site as Diamond Harbour School, there is a real sense of community and inter-generational interaction as children can graduate from the centre, move to Diamond Harbour School, and still maintain that contact with their friends and teachers for many more years.
There is also a multi-functional meeting room, intended to be shared by parents, family, staff and the Diamond Harbour community.
What an absolutely amazing building for our youngest learners over in Banks Peninsula.
The new centre at Diamond Harbour is the first that Kidsfirst has built in 22 years, and so they had a real chance to design and create a building that would be as environmentally friendly as possible.
It’s been built out of locally sourced materials and factors in as many environmentally friendly elements as it can.
KIDSFIRST KINDERGARTENS ARE A NOT FOR PROFIT ASSOCIATION THAT HAS DEVELOPED AND MAINTAINED KINDERGARTENS IN CHRISTCHURCH, CANTERBURY AND ON THE WEST COAST FOR OVER 100 YEARS - AS THE PLACE LOCAL KIDS COME TO LEARN, PLAY AND HAVE FUN.