The University of Auckland’s brief for Te Ako o Te Tui – their new purpose-built childcare centre for under 2’s and over 2’s at 11 Park Ave – prioritised a flexible space that was inclusive, warm and inviting.
The centre can cater for up to 90 children in the open-plan indoor play space. A high level of insulation, natural ventilation, quality acoustic treatments and the use of durable materials were important to provide a comfortable environment for children.
The design resulted in generous, light-filled play spaces which are delineated using carefully selected tactile furniture and play options. The play spaces flow seamlessly from indoors to the outdoor playground. The open-plan environment provides sight lines across the centre, providing a high degree of transparency and supporting teacher supervision.
The building has a strong focus on natural and non-toxic construction materials, which resulted in an exterior which celebrates the use of timber cladding, and a slightly ‘wild’ outdoor play space designed by Boffa Miskell.
The kitchen and dedicated open plan dining area are placed at the intersection of the centre’s entrance and the two branching play spaces. This spatial layout creates a ‘heart’ – drawing parallels to the kitchen being the heart of the home – and enables children and parents to observe and feel part of the food preparation.
The site for the centre is constrained by high buildings on each side, such that the emphasis on maximising light-filled spaces while providing privacy was a design priority. The mix of window heights provides low level glazing, allowing light and outlook for small children.
Internally, the use of natural materials was emphasised through the use of exposed timber and the natural colour scheme punctuated by bold yellow accents.
A simple base of Resene Quarter Black White to the walls and timber structure on display ensures that the main colours to the spaces are provided by the children and their activities. With the timber structure on display, Resene Aquaclear satin applied to the portals, rafters and plywood features allows for a hardwearing surface without hiding the timber detailing.
Wood-X Shale was chosen to allow the exterior timber Accoya cladding to appear pre-weathered and to protect its natural appearance, teamed with soffits in Resene Ironsand and Resene White. Yellow surrounds to the windows facing the carpark and road give a hint of the fun awaiting inside.
The project was fast tracked, and was partly panelised to reduce the construction timeframe.
Architectural graduate: Eleanor Glenton
Architectural specifier: Jasmax
Building contractor: Stanley Construction
Building structure and Services: Beca
Client: University of Auckland
Landscape architect: Boffa Miskell
Photographer: Zee Shake Lee
Principal architect: Stephen Middleton
Project architect: Laura Mahon
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