|The Pagoda Research Centre||
Pagoda early concept - outside
The idea for the new Pagoda facility was originally mooted in 2000, when staff working in the refurbished older children’s unit at the Castle were needing to juggle the demands of the newly expanded group of 2-5 year olds.
Soon after, in 2001, the idea of constructing a new ‘Pagoda-style’ teaching and research facility was floated when the Trust Chairperson visited schools and kindergartens in Hong Kong and Macau. Asian children appeared to be much more studious in their habits than the ones back home in NZ! A parcel of land had already been secured from Council several years earlier in 1997.
Designed with great attention to detail at every stage, and with low lifetime running and maintenance costs in mind, the proposed new facility was to be dedicated to the specific needs of the older preschoolers (3½-5 year olds). It was also to be made 'somehow beautiful' and would incorporate ‘calming’influences of nature and music.
The overall aim was to achieve a design without compromise. Important for its future ambitions were the custom-designed, highly flexible and modular teaching spaces that would also be suitable for conducting ECE research. "Let’s try to show the rest of the industry what is possible" became our aim.
Pagoda early concept - inside
The teaching team was consulted on the design aided by computerised 'walk-throughs', and the results were passed to the architect (Murray Furze who designed the Castle).
The first of the yearly applications for Ministry of Education grants was made in 2001. Finally, in 2005, success came in the form of grants and bank loans to cover the cost of construction, outfitting, and landscaping (~ $750,000).
Construction commenced in late-2005 and the 30-place ‘Pagoda’ opened its doors to its first customers in August 2006. Then Prime Minister, Helen Clark, officially opened The Pagoda in November 2007, at which occasion she declared:
"I haven't seen anything else like this in early childhood education in NZ... so exciting... this is world-leading... this is just incredible... I am so really very, very impressed by what I've seen..."