A childcare business says New Zealand children are obsessed with instant gratification and have become detached from the natural world.
And it is proposing an innovative solution - a "Gaia-inspired" preschool in South Auckland which encourages kids to "go back to basics".
Its founders, Darius and Nikeeta Singh, said it was a school for kids to get back in touch with nature.
Shaped like a giant leaf, the childhood centre will be built on 0.4ha of forested land and is scheduled for opening in April 2020 if all its consents are approved.
"With everybody subdividing their properties and losing their backyards, people are really losing that connection with the Earth," Dr Darius Singh said.
"We have a generation of children who believe carrots and potatoes grow on trees, milk comes from a fridge and who try to swipe across the pages of a book."
He was not anti-technology, but was concerned about children being overwhelmed by it in their early years.
"Kids seem to be distracted more, they seek instant gratification and they need to put in extra energy to simply sit still and focus," he said.
"The easy fix ... is to look at further engineering marvels or medical approaches and more technology to counter the root cause, when all we need is to go back to basics."
The building would be modelled on a breathing, living entity. It will be run primarily on solar power, and heated from coils underneath the ground which trap heat in warm months and allow it to be released in cold months. The toilets, bathrooms, and laundry would be run on rainwater harvested through the leaf-like structure.
Singh said the preschool would be for "everyone and anyone" and would have relatively low fees to make it accessible.
With wife Nikeeta, an educator, he has already founded four childcare centres in Auckland and Tauranga.