Demonstrating inventive, adaptive reuse of an existing warehouse shell, R ARCHITECTURE has created an exemplary learning environment for both children and staff at Bira Bira Early Learning Centre.
The U-shaped floor plan is arranged around a 1000 square metre playground, featuring a range of engaging areas such as a large sandpit, and a custom climbing wall. This configuration maximises connections between the internal and external environment, providing all learning areas and many of the support spaces with access to natural light, views and increased flexibility with the ability for activities to flow between indoors and out.
Complementing the show-stopping internal courtyard are the generous internal learning spaces, which are approximately 20% larger than the legislated standard, providing ample space for creative activities. Play spaces are strategically positioned in a circulatory spatial arrangement, which allows for organic interaction as well as room for separation between groups. Raked ceilings and clerestory windows also take advantage of the warehouse volume. These features, as well as the ubiquitous connectivity with the outdoors, combine to imbue the centre with light and spaciousness uncommon in childcare environments.
This spaciousness and the provision of support spaces such as consulting rooms means that the centre is well-equipped to accommodate children with special needs who may require dedicated support people and services such as occupational and speech therapies.
The layout also facilitates a view of the outdoor play area from the reception, enabling children the delight of seeing the playground when they first enter the centre and contributing to creating a relatable, welcoming and enticing environment.
The provision of areas such as a library and dining room facilitate a broader range of learning experiences as well as calmer transitions at pick-up and drop-off, providing space and opportunities to engage parents in their child’s learning and development within the centre.
The centre also demonstrates how early learning educators and carers can be better supported in the workplace with areas that foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing, enable engagement with external specialists and service providers as well as appropriate areas for withdrawal and respite during the work day.