Gray Puksand has designed a 207-place childcare centre for Goodstart Early Learning in Adelaide Street, Brisbane. In this unique CBD location, Gray Puksand’s team has achieved outstanding results within difficult parameters.
Goodstart, as an experienced childcare provider, had a long list of requirements for their latest centre. When the opportunity arose to secure an entire floor of the old Broadway on the Mall building — directly above H&M — they jumped at the opportunity, despite the limitations of the existing building.
Dealing with a heritage-listed facade, existing ground-floor tenancy and the lack of outdoor space, there were several challenges that required a collaborative approach.
“Our team investigated the breakdown of age groups and the size of the rooms within the space,” explains Kevin Miles, Brisbane Managing Partner at Gray Puksand. “However, the space is unique and required some creative thinking.”
In its former life as a city mall, the building had a central atrium skylight area, which used to bring light into the old shopping precinct. Now just servicing the top floor, this atrium became a wonderful asset to the design.
“Typically with childcare you need outdoor space, depending on how many children you have,” Miles says. “Along with a new rooftop garden and play area, this atrium space lent itself to that requirement for outdoor space,” says Miles. Gray Puksand also worked to create operable windows and large openings to bring breezes through to the indoor play area.
With a re-fit such as this, there were extreme limitations in terms of weight and inability to penetrate the floor slab. The solutions involved working closely with the landscape architects and engineers to develop suitable garden designs for the roof and indoor play areas, as well as installing a raised floor for drainage.
Across the 14 learning spaces, Gray Puksand worked closely with Goodstart’s team, headed by general manager Dr Lesley Jones, to provide the right equipment, support facilities and environments for each of the age groups, from babies to kindergarten. Each learning environment opens onto the internal playground space, which incorporates nature areas and equipment for exploration and learning. “The playground offers lots to explore, with bike circuits, rope bridges, water play, and sandpits as well as quiet reading zones and seating pods,” Dr Jones says.
Each learning environment opens onto the internal playground space, which incorporates nature areas and equipment for exploration and learning. “The playground offers lots to explore, with bike circuits, rope bridges, water play, and sandpits as well as quiet reading zones and seating pods,” Jones says.
As the education team at Goodstart explains: “At the Adelaide Street centre, children can experience the seven senses as they explore the atrium where they can touch the bark of the trees, walk barefoot over the stepping stones and admire the view on raised platforms.”
Gray Puksand’s role involved working within the site’s tight parameters while creating spaces that met the strict safety guidelines and requirements of diverse early learning. The landscape architect, Greenedge Design, played a key role in realising the innovative rooftop and indoor gardens.
“The landscaping is one of the most important parts of the whole project,” Miles says. “To their immense credit, Green Edge thought through every detail. Ours was quite a collaborative approach in terms of what we were doing, what the engineers were doing, what the landscape architects were doing.”
The resulting rooftop space includes mechanically-controlled skylights, allowing light, air and rain to support the vegetable gardens.
Natural timbers and stone have been used to bring a more warmth into the interiors through joinery and other additions. “Bringing that warmth in was crucial,” Miles says. “We wanted it to have a bit more of that home feel, rather than some other centres which can be a bit more clinical.”
Another innovative aspect of Goodstart’s approach to their Adelaide Street facility — and one that is certainly not commonplace in the industry — is the addition of on-site meal preparation, with an in-house chef. Gray Puksand saw this as an amazing opportunity for the children to learn, and to watch their food being prepared. The kitchen was therefore designed with windows and a viewing amphitheatre, which allows children and other members of the Goodstart community to observe the kitchen activities.
Photography by Christopher Frederick Jones.
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