Sitting sensitively within its rural New Zealand context, the ‘Fantails’ Childcare Centre by CASA (Collingridge and Smith Architects) uses sustainable design to provide state-of-the-art, modern education spaces for 154 young children.

The building incorporates dynamic forms extruding out into the countryside, styled with a natural material palette to fit into the vision of a environmentally friendly, luxury lodge.

At the end of winding, estate-like driveways, the center by CASA sits as six individual blocks fanned out around a striking geometric timber canopy.

The six blocks comprise of five individual classrooms, and a more private staff block which includes the kitchen, laundry and administrative spaces.

The project features canopies that create all-weather play spaces, allowing the building to open up to the outdoors and remain naturally ventilated for most of the year.

The canopies are covered with polycarbonate roofing, minimising excess heat and harsh direct sunlight.  Internally, each classroom has a north-facing outlook to the large playground and the countryside setting.

The sizing of each block is designed so that daylight and natural ventilation is provided for optimal internal environment quality that ensures the children’s health.

This also reduces the need for internal power. The overall planning is airy and spacious, allowing seamless flow between the indoor and outdoor spaces.

Low-e coated glazed sliding doors allow children to experience over 80% visual connectivity to the outside from each room.

Individual classrooms have been designed to provide children with an intimate learning environment, featuring facilities that cater for the unique needs of each age group.

Custom designed cabinetry and play equipment create a cohesive feel throughout the interior, fitting in with the overall architectural design and form of the building. careful selection of autex panelling, softens the internal spaces providing a functional space for children’s artwork.

The selection of a natural material palette was favourable, for designing a striking architectural form within the context of rural/countryside setting.

Timber was predominantly incorporated with minimal use of steel beams and posts. This is to ensure the structure is economic while also minimising the buildings overall carbon footprint.

The natural integration of sustainability of the project includes a range of strategies, such as the rainwater collection system which provides for all of the building’s water supply. Blackwater is also captured and treated on site – no wastewater is released or imported.

The roof and walls have a high insulation level, so heat loss is minimal resulting in 20% better performance. While the design is oriented for solar gains in winter, natural ventilation, shading and thermal mass cooling in the summer occurs naturally.