Ashgrove, Queensland

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The Centre for Excellence long day care centre is a sixty place early childhood education and early childhood training facility designed to embody the driving principals behind one of Australia’s foremost and respected early childhood education providers and training organisations.  As with the Reggio Emilia experience in Italy, the client’s aim was to create a world renowned early childhood education and training experience that is adapted to the Australian context.  The project is designed to achieve a 5 star Green Star rating utilising the Green Building Council of Australia’s Education Tool.

The architectural strategy seeks to reinforce the belief and respect in the rights of children as individuals through a built paradigm that presents choices of experience and empowers children to be directors of their experience of space.  The design is underpinned by the concept of ‘house’ and how this sits within a community context. A house affords individuals the opportunity to regulate its interactions with family and community.  It is comprised of a series of experiential opportunities that are graduated from the very public at the street interface to the very private such as the space under a bunk bed.   This notion of ‘house’ as a transition between the public and private realms is utilised as a means for providing variety and choice in an early childhood setting that is familiar, safe and nurturing.

The facility occupies space encapsulated by two existing buildings with entry, atelier and research spaces contained within the conversion of an existing timber ‘Queenslander’ house and primary education spaces & facilities contained within an existing concrete shell beneath office spaces.  The space capsulated between the two buildings becomes the playground and becomes an integral part of the entry experience reinforcing nature based play philosophies pursued by the client. The virtues of existing spaces are utilised to inform and define the new functions. The existing ‘Queenslander’ is raised into the canopy, providing outlook for the research spaces and an undercroft for the atelier with its light weight character driving a ‘tree house’ metaphor; and the rhythm provided by the existing column layout is utilised to give definition to the new spatial hierarchy, driven by the ‘house’ concept within the concrete shell.

November 2011


Architect | Mark Williams Architects