Creators Early Childhood Centre, Hamilton faces a beautiful grove of mature protected oak trees. The district plan rules state that no centre is to be larger than 250m², so we split the centre into two smaller blocks, one housing preschool and the other the under twos. These are joined by a glazed atrium space, giving the visual impression of two smaller centres whilst providing continuity internally.
The architectural expression of Creators Early Childhood Centre differs from most of our others, in that we have purposely adopted a residential look. Using pitched roofs and punched windows, the two blocks are kept within the urban context of the area.
We have of course adopted a playful twist, using randomly arranged windows, whilst the elevation facing the trees takes its cues from traditional Maori Wharenui (meeting houses), again referencing the cultural context.
Internally we have been able to create something very unique with this client, as they did not want a traditional classroom and circulation route. The ‘classrooms’ in Creators Early Childhood Centre are combined, so that each has 40 children, with the ability to split this space into three using large glass screens. These flexible spaces can then be used in a multitude of ways, with parts flowing straight into an art studio facing the playground and trees.
Circulation space within Creators Early Childhood Centre has been designed out completely and even the entrance hall doubles as dining or drama space. Extensive use of glass creates complete transparency throughout the centre and promotes a sharing and open approach to life that the client really wants to embody in the children.
Credit: Phil Smith
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