Take 49 children under 5, add staff and a regular flow of parents and it’s a vital part of the design to ensure that the building not only looks good but that it can withstand the relentless wear and tear it’s going to face.
The Westport Early Learning Centre uses a rich and varied materials palette to create a warm, welcoming feeling in the building that captures and celebrates the unique feel of the West Coast environment, which also demands a selection of robust materials and detailing. The undulating roof plane performs at both an aesthetic and practical level; it ties the building to its stunning mountain backdrop while helping to moderate the effects of sound reverberation in the main play space.
The main entrance is expressed by a covered link way (to a future ‘transition to learning’ building) that marks a circulation spine that continues inside the building dividing the play spaces from the more private staff-based ancillary spaces. The building is arranged around the two main play spaces, one is a nursery for the under two’s and the other larger space for preschool children. A ‘stepping stone’ idea in the floor vinyl along the spine helps the children locate themselves in relation to the different functions in the building.
Play spaces are located on the north side receiving all-day sun, which is tempered by large canopy and corner ‘eyebrow’ solar shading. The main play spaces open up to a covered deck, which is well protected from the prevailing westerly weather by projecting ‘pods’ clad in Cedar weatherboarding and coated with Resene Waterborne Woodsman tinted to Resene Honeycomb.
The fibre-cement board cladding is painted in a warm Resene Eighth Canterbury Clay (warm cream) in Resene Lumbersider low sheen waterborne paint with the colour being carried through internally in Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen waterborne enamel tying the composition together. Feature colours such as Resene Fahrenheit (raisin red), Resene Pumpkin (muted orange) and Resene West Coast (murky mustard green) have also been used to punctuate the window bands and create a rhythm in the elevations. Resene Aquaclear waterborne urethane also features on the interior to finish and protect the perforated plywood ceiling mounted acoustic panels. All paint systems are from the Resene Environmental Choice approved range. Resene SpaceCote is a durable easy care interior finish, ideal in wear and tear and wet areas.
The landscape design is fully integrated with letters and numbers formed in the concrete paving that the children can fill in with insects, shells and rocks from the native area and set into a resin. Fun filled from entrance to exit, this building is a treasure trove of inspiring activities and ideas for growing minds.
Architectural Specifier: Gary Wyatt, Project Architect, Dalman Architecture
Painting Contractor: David F Carmine Painting
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