Our concept set out to capture the genius loci, the Spirit of the Place. The result, Te Whare Whenua (house of earth) recalls Maori tradition that all life is born from Papatuanuku (earth mother) under the sea, the islands of New Zealand seen as placentas from her womb.
The word Whenua means both land and placenta and is a fundamental concept in Maori tradition, tying each person to their birthplace through a custom of burying their placenta in the earth.
Our design is conceived by shaping the land into a womb-like form, with the building forming just like a baby within: the building literally grows out of the swampy land around.
Harnessing the natural environment, the design uses natural ventilation and mass to cool, sun to heat and daylight to light it, whilst the grass roof and bank blend seamlessly into the natural ecology.