It evokes a sense of calm, rather than the anxiety that makes children feel, as Angels say, “in lollipop land, with too much sugar.”
Designed as both a child care center and also as the Fit Kidz headquarters, there is a consistent palette of colors, materials and finishes with both features, with the headquarters primarily on the first floor of the L-shaped floor plan.
The concrete ceilings and walls, sometimes clad with wooden slats and skylights lined with painted plywood, give the concrete a softness.
And while children are crucial to CO-AP’s design, there is a level of sophistication that can also be enjoyed by parents who use the lounge near reception and wait for children to arrive.
With banquet seats, concrete floors and colorful Fritz Hansen chairs, this casual seating area can also be used by the Fit Kidz staff.
One of the features that customers admired from the Camperdown Child Care Center, a former dairy where a large oculus was placed in the roof, was the connection to the outdoors.
The Rouse Hill Center did not have that history to work with, but CO-AP strengthened the connection with the play areas (along with landscape architects Urban Landscapes) by creating an enfilade between the children’s rooms and the outdoors.
Seven large tilt-up industrial-style doors along this aisle blur the lines between inside and out.
So, when it rains, the kids still feel connected to the outdoors.
Operable windows and ceiling fans also ensure a comfortable environment during the warmer months of the year.
For the babies, there are rooms designed to accommodate cots.
And for the toddlers, there is a series of connecting rooms that can be used as one large space for functions or events, or simply shared by screens.
In addition to the usual features like sinks, tables and chairs, CO-AP has thought a lot about creating ways that will engage the kids.
Consequently, there are stage-like plywood structures that serve numerous functions: from a tree house environment to slides and cavities, including a separate corner for bean bags located in a quiet zone of this structure.
CO-AP was just as considerate when it comes to creating an environment for the center’s staff on the first floor, with the open-plan offices featuring plywood stations with large patry gate windows joining the plantings on the roof.
For children and just as importantly, for parents, the Rouse Hill Child Care Center is an example of what can be achieved with a little thought and careful planning – a place that is stimulating but certainly not overwhelming.