The commission for this center at Orchard Park in Albany came from a developer we had previously worked with on the New Shoots Albany center.
Based on a similar brief to the previous center, the new one was to house 125 children with good indoor-outdoor flow and plenty of natural light and WOW-factor.
To achieve this we created a central hallway and brought natural light in from above to animate the main entry with sunlight and shadows. The central classrooms are fully glazed where they connect onto this hallway, providing them with maximum natural daylighting at the rear and views of the comings and goings in the center for the children. The two other classrooms are glazed on 3 sides and only 7m deep to ensure good daylight penetration from outside.
Staff spaces are arranged along the car park side with linear windows for light and ventilation, concealed partly on the outside by vertical louvers which we colored differently on each side. This allows the building to take on a different color depending on which side it is viewed from. Conceptually, the solid walls of the building are grouped so as to represent simple ‘timber’ boxes holding up the roof, the glass simply infilling between the boxes. Hence both internally and externally the walls are clad with timber paneling.
Internally, we designed all of the fixed and loose furniture to ensure a coherent concept and provide maximum aesthetic and functional impact. Whilst the loose units look visually appealing, the pieces have much functionality, being both storage furniture and room dividers. Within the taller units are a mini kitchen, a stage, a dress up area, as well as storage. The separate pieces combine to make mini-amphitheatre spaces for the children to come together for story time, but they can all be separated and reconfigured to divide up the room into any number of smaller areas easily as each is on lockable castors. Velcroed vinyl cushions also come apart easily and can be made into separate seating, or better – built into castles or dens!