Gaia (Earth) Forest Preschool New Zealand

A building in the shape of a single leaf, set in 10,000 m² of ancient native forest is home to the world’s first childcare centre fully immersed in nature. Inspired by the Gaia Earth Education Principle of Earth-inspired building design, environments, values, curriculum and outcomes for children – the Gaia (Earth) Forest Pre-school is a unique experience for children.

RDT Pacific provided Cost Management and bank funding Quantity Surveying (QS) services to support this extraordinary project through challenging times to enable its completion.

Somewhat unusually, the project was undertaken under the NZS 3915 form of contract. As such, RDT Pacific also provided additional support to the Principal as their advisor.

The development and construction of the Gaia (Earth) Preschool faced some unprecedented challenges during COVID-19 restrictions, that were further compounded when the impact of Australian forest fires greatly increased the cost of timber.

Cost changes in the midst of construction required added support from our team and a significant Value Engineering process was undertaken by the team to reduce the impact of the cost increases and ensure continuity.

Additional challenges that required extensive team collaboration included a major change to the roof construction following the discovery that the designed roof could not physically fit down the driveway due to turning circle restrictions.

In mid-2022, the giant leaf-shaped building that “bio-mimics” Earth’s natural ecosystems opened in Manurewa, South Auckland.

The vision for Gaia (Earth) Forest Preschool is based on founders Dr Darius and Nakeeta Singh’s belief in hope, and the opportunity to “provide children with more amazing experiences and opportunities than anyone has ever had growing up”.

We are privileged to have been a part of this incredible journey.


  • 2023 New Zealand Commercial Project Awards – Silver Award Winner
  • 2023 Property Council of New Zealand Property Industry Awards, Education Property Award - Excellence

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