Based on traditional Maori design, Te Mirumiru by Collingridge and Smith Architects is a sweeping curvilinear building that undulates above and beneath the earth's surface. Covered in a lush green roof, the structure’s entrance seems to emerge from a passage in the side of a hill. A glass lined exterior coupled with the roof angle creates passive cooling and ventilation, saving on energy while respecting New Zealand’s traditions.
The architects based the complex’s design on the genius loci, the Maori Spirit of the Place. The resulting submerged structure was built in the Te Whare Whenua tradition, which means house of the earth. By building a structure partially underground, its inhabitants and visitors are thought to be closer to Mother Earth.
The building site is shaped in a curved form that emulates a womb shape, with the structure residing within, its inner arch peeking out onto the land through floor to ceiling glass walls. Flooding the interior with natural light, the interior looks out onto the natural and lush swamp land of the area.
The grass covered roof extends to the parking lot on the façade of the building, and also insulates the rooms inside throughout the year. Rain water is filtered throughout the dense mass of grass, diverting water from the storm sewers in the lot.
The arched ceiling naturally circulates air throughout the interior, keeping it fresh and cool in the summer, and moving around warm air in the winter. The concrete floor absorbs the sun’s rays and provides radiant heat in the winter, while the roof overhang blocks direct sun rays in the summer.
Te Mirumiru combines modern sustainable and energy efficient design with the time honored tradition of historic Maori ideologies.