Early Learning Centre, Albany
The location for this 125 child early learning centre in Albany posed a unique problem in that the surrounding catchment was full of early childhood centres – seven in total.
The client knew this area well and was adamant that a well designed, purpose built, and unique centre would offer something more than the competition and wanted to use the design quality to ‘advertise’ the quality of the service they offered.
We adopted the simple concept of a white frame, filled with coloured boxes, like a child’s puzzle. Glass fills the space between the solid boxes, and the boxes contain all the service areas such as WCs etc.
To create an immediate ‘WOW’ factor, we created a tall entry space, filled with natural light from above, and created one wall of display ‘boxes’ that the children could
climb on, crawl under or look through (via windows in the wall). These boxes are arranged to lead the eye to the reception at the end of this space, which uses the boxes to create a frame and plinth so that the children can also access the receptionist.
The rooms are arranged around each side of the centrally placed entry, and all feature large glass sliding doors to connect indoors and outdoor seamlessly whilst supplying natural ventilation at six times the building code minimum.
Outdoors, we designed the playground to make best use of the sloped site, placing the younger children on the sheltered side, whilst the preschoolers occupy the open hillside. The preschool playground takes full advantage of the slope with a waterfall, a slide, a rope ladder and sloping pathways joining levels. Platforms were created between the pathways for sandpits and play equipment, and all has been planted extensively with native plants to create a natural learning environment outside.
Facts + Figures
Client: Northbridge Properties
Location: Albany, Auckland, New Zealand
Construction cost: NZ $1.2 million
Programme: Completed 2010