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 the 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.
Internally, the use of natural materials was emphasised through the use of exposed timber and the natural colour scheme punctuated by bold yellow accents.
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.
The centre opened for operation in late 2018.