A childcare centre is essentially a few playrooms with associated services (change rooms, toy storage, craft preparation…). The playrooms are the core of a child’s experience of the building. For a baby or a toddler, nothing is more comforting than home.
The aim of the design is to convey a homely feeling. Each playroom is an identifiable volume with a pitch roof like a traditional house but badly drawn; irregular, quirky and unpredictable. Put together they look like a child’s drawing.
The materials are warm and the light abundant. The timber cladding proposed in the new building will create a feeling of warmth and welcome, reflecting the comfort of ‘home’ through the use of a predominantly domestic material. Each playroom opens fully to the playground.
The profile of the roof also helps to gain height and presence on the street as it is the only single storey building in the precinct. Without it, the centre would be overwhelmed by the tall surrounding heritage buildings.
At the same time the location of the service spaces is highly efficient and the supervision is easy.
Passive solar design through (shaded) north façade to main playrooms. The construction is naturally ventilated with openings on north/ south façades of pre-school and toddler playrooms and east/west façades for infant playrooms. It is assisted by roof ventilators. Solar collectors will be placed on selected roof area to heat hot water supply and the rainwater harvested.
Translucent polycarbonate façade elements will allow diffuse natural light to interior spaces therefore reducing electrical lighting requirements
Bike parking is provided for staff to encourage sustainable mode of travel. Pram parking is provided for parents to encourage sustainable mode of travel.
Building Materials & Finishes
High level polycarbonate façade is a low-maintenance, UV stable material that will allow diffuse light to the internal spaces and gives a contemporary interpretation to the heritage inspired roof form. Retention (or re-instatement) of boundary fence sandstone plinth gives the building a solid base and responds to the heritage condition.
The timber cladding proposed in the new building will create a feeling of warmth and welcome, reflecting the comfort of ‘home’ through the use of a predominantly domestic material. The use of timber on the lower portion of the façades also reflects the timber verandahs of the heritage buildings as the height of timber cladding to the façade and the height of the verandahs are similar
The footprint of the building has been designed to lend the existing buildings curtilage, and while this is an appropriate response it was felt there still needed to be some engagement between the new and old architecture. This is proposed through mirror finished cladding to the solid building façades facing the heritage buildings. The effect will be a playful dialogue of reflections between the new building and the heritage site.
The new built form pulls back from the street boundary to reveal the south façade of the heritage listed buildings and aligns with their internal façades. A new veranda responds to the lines and scale of the existing verandas and create a quadrangle.
The visual connections between the 3 heritage buildings are preserved and the new roof form responds to the scale and pitch of existing roofs. The history of the site as a gated educational community is retained with the boundary fence.
Architects in association: Lacoste+Stevenson and DJRD
Location: Blackfriars Street, Chippendale -33.885620, 151.198101 Date: 2013 -2018
Team: Tasmin Dunn, Thierry Lacoste, Camille Farges, Glenn Holmes, Daniel Beekwilder Awards: NSW AIA Educational Architecture Award 2018
Acoustic: Marshall Day acoustic
Arborist: Urban Forestry
BCA / Accessibility: AE&D
Childcare Consultant: KU Children’s services
Civil / Structure: Henry & Hymas
Landscape: Ric McConaghy
Services / ESD: Erbas
Traffic: Parking and Traffic Consultants1