Te Kaapuia o Te Waoku — The Discovery Garden

Finalist 2020

Located within the popular Wellington Botanic Gardens, Te Kaapuia o Te Waoku or, The Discovery Garden, is a living classroom, which connects people to plants. City life provides few opportunities to connect with nature and this new garden aims to help children and their families better understand how plants support us with food, fiber, medicine and construction materials. These ‘four pillars’ influenced the design of the garden, and formed the basis of its education program. The Discovery Garden and Pavilion combine to become a ‘living classroom’ with the vision of bringing people and plants together.

Its Māori name Te Kaapuia o Te Waoku was chosen with local Iwi and means ‘We are all part of nature.’ Bilingual text —Te Reo Māori and English— introduces information to discover, and acknowledge the connection mana whenua have with the area. Super-sized ‘garden pegs’ welcome visitors, introducing the four themes and wayfinding colors. Large-scale typography in bold color applied to the architectural surfaces will weather along with the materials they are painted on, further embedding them in the environment. Pared-back illustration and plain language introduce ideas for the audience, some of whom are non-readers. Carefully placed interactive elements encourage visitors to engage with the garden and make their own discoveries.

In the heart of the garden is a new pavilion — a gathering place to share discoveries.  The key purpose of the pavilion is that it houses and supports creative hands-on education sessions that inspire a life-long connection between people and plants. Located on a triangular wedge of land carved out of the steep hillside, the pavilion provides a flexible learning space for groups of up to 40 children.

Design Firms: 

Isthmus Group

Client: 

Wellington Botanic Gardens

Project Area: 

1,500 m2

Open Date: 

January 2017

Project Budget: 

$3,100,000 NZD

Photo Credits: 

James Calinci, David St George

Design Team: 

Lisa Rimmer (bid lead and project landscape architect), Sophie Jaques (landscape architect), Helen Kerr Stakeholder (engagement & principal landscape architect), Earl Rutherford (project architect), Matt Peacocke (landscape architect), John Broadbent (architect), Dan Males (quality assurance)

Consultants: 

Nick Kapica (environmental graphic design)

Fabricators: 

Concept Sign and Display Ltd. (signage fabrication & installation)

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