Large and looming trees can be seen as problematic for commercial development, yet the architects at Collingridge and Smith Architects instead saw a unique opportunity. The site was realized as an ideal location for the Chrysalis Childcare Centre where children could experience the full beauty of the landscape. In addition, the center was built around the trees in a way that honors local traditions and lore.
Located in Auckland, New Zealand, the developers wished to integrate symbolic details of Maori beliefs into the structure and its grounds. The story of the separation Rangi (the sky father) and Papa (the earth mother) to create the world of light is seen in the curvature of the building, representing their outstretched arms. The equally large English Oak and Pohutakawa trees hold steady in the center of this former embrace, their branches entwining.
The unity of these different trees also represents the multicultural nature of the center. The hope is to find harmony in blending spiritual and cultural values of the local community.
The unique contours of the center prove to be mesmerizing for passers-by. Overlapping sail designs can be viewed as one drives or moves around the building, giving the illusion of fluid movement. The use of sails in the design of the building is also an homage to the arrivals of all of New Zealand’s cultures by sailing boats.
With flowing wooden walkways, neutral hues, and walls of windows through which ample sunlight is invited the center truly represents a unity of nature and modern design. Even the playground pulls in natural elements, such as simple wooden structures and tree stumps, to ensure young minds’ connection to the natural world.
Images via Collingridge and Smith Architects