St Michael’s College Early Learning Centre
Phillips Smith Conwell Architects
Old Toorbul Point Road Caboolture, QLD 4510 Australia
The 100-plus child St Michael’s Early Learning Centre provides a stand-alone extension to the junior school through a flexible scheme allowing segregated or combined age groups, natural daylight and ventilation, a semi-enclosed central space for circulation and gathering, and a strong visual and physical connection to its rural and coastal environment through materials, light and form.
The 100-plus child St Michael’s Early Learning Centre provides a stand-alone extension to the existing junior school for children from six weeks of age to pre-school care through a flexible scheme allowing segregated or combined age groups, natural daylight and ventilation, and layouts that respond to the needs of childcare and safe supervision. St Michael’s College vision is to enrich the lives of younger children and their families in the community and to provide a safe and quality learning environment where each child is understood, supported and enriched by their school experiences.
The semi-enclosed central space responds to the College’s desire for a communal ‘community’ meeting space and love of wide open learning areas and natural location. Providing linked circulation, the central space fosters a shared sense of learning and creates a protected and controlled environment for semi-outdoor play with a transparency critical to passive carer – child overview.
The external shell of the Early Learning Centre recalls elements of the nearby Bribie Island coastal building vernacular, expressed through materials, light and form. The colours match a collection of landscape elements such as the existing gumtrees both on the immediate site and within the larger St Michaels campus. This visual and physical connection to the building’s context is continued to the interior of the Centre with the use of simple and environmentally sympathetic materials which reduce the burden of ongoing maintenance. The carefully considered use of materials with lower ceilings and timber ‘cocoon’ around the rooms designed for the youngest children ensure that babies and toddlers feel welcome and secure