Case Study: Te Mirumiru (NZ)


Located in New Zealand's remote Northland region stands Te Mirumiru, the country's first 6-Star educational Green Star building. In this article we look at how ARCHICAD helped bring the building to life.

About the project

Designed for a Maori tribe (Ng?ti Hine) in Kawakawa New Zealand, Te Mirumiru needed to accommodate their tamariki (children) while also teaching them about their culture and customs. In addition, the design brief called for a unique design that would have minimal impact on the environment.

The resulting design by Collingridge and Smith Architects (CASA) is rich in symbolism, being based on the idea that all life is born from the womb of Papat??nuku (earth mother). The concept has been expressed by shaping the land into a womb-like form, with the building forming just like a baby within, resulting in a building that appears to grow out of the swampy land surrounding it.

Inside the building, geometric timber panels exude warmth in contrast to the buildings' metal and glass exterior. These timber constructions (including the entrace way panelling, above) were also modelled in ARCHICAD. CASA Director Phil Smith explains that "the modelling capabilities of ARCHICAD allows for complete accuracy of detailed components in the model. That makes it incredibly easy for us to generate drawings for builders even at 1:2 scale". He adds of the reception desk, "the finished piece looks exactly like the 3D model - and I don't think we could have designed it without ARCHICAD".

...The finished piece looks exactly like the 3D model - I don't think we could have designed it without ARCHICAD.

Phil Smith, Collingridge and Smith Architects

The CASA team has been using ARCHICAD since 2006, and Phil tells us that "before that, we had been using Microstation - some of us for over 15 years". Whilst the CASA team enjoyed the rendering capability of Microstation, they just didn't feel it was as intuitive as ARCHICAD, which is what led to the change.

When CineRender was added to ARCHICAD in 2014, the team was pleased to find that it could handle the high-end rendering they needed, and the software then truly became an all in one solution that could serve the company from start to finish.

Phil adds, "We've experienced huge productivity benefits in using ARCHICAD, as all GA drawings can be automatically generated straight from our project model. Plus, we can produce consent drawings in weeks (not months); and schedules can be managed easily by just one person".

We've experienced huge productivity benefits in using ARCHICAD.

Phil Smith, Collingridge and Smith Architects

Building Features

As the building needed to have a minimal impact on the environment, the CASA team incorporated subtle, yet effective building practices that have ultimately led it to achieve New Zealand's first 6-Star energy rating for an educational building.

These practices include the north facing glazing, which ensures maximum solar gain. To minimise heat loss, the building features an earth roof, and a circulation space is located to the south. For exceptionally cold days, heating can also be provided via a solar hot water underfloor system.

To keep the building cool in summer, the internal spaces feature exposed concrete surfaces; while natural ventilation is encouraged through large sliding doors and windows.

To reduce the amount of electricity used on the site, the building has been oriented to make the most of natural light. This has resulted in no electrical light being needed to illuminate the spaces during daylight hours.

Finally, water re-use was addressed by treating blackwater on site, and using the treated, nutrient rich water to irrigate the green roof.

Read more about the project on the CASA website.

About Collingridge and Smith Architects (UK)

Collingridge And Smith Architects (UK) is an award winning international architectural practice, delivering unique, innovative and sustainable architecture.