It evokes a sense of calm, rather than the anxiety that makes children feel, as Engelen puts it, “in lollipop land, with too much sugar.”
Designed as both a daycare and Fit Kidz headquarters, there is a cohesive palette of colors, materials and finishes with both functions, with the headquarters primarily located on the first floor of the L-shaped floor plan .
Concrete ceilings and walls, sometimes clad in wooden slats and skylights lined with painted plywood, add a softness to the concrete.
And while children are at the heart of CO-AP’s design, there is a level of sophistication that can also be appreciated by parents using the lounge area near reception, awaiting the arrival of children.
Featuring banquettes, concrete floors and colorful Fritz Hansen chairs, this informal lounge can also be used by Fit Kidz staff.
One of the features customers admired about Camperdown Childcare Centre, a former dairy where a large oculus was inserted into the roof, was the connection to the outdoors.
The Rouse Hill center did not have this story to work with, but CO-AP strengthened the connection to the play areas (in collaboration with landscape architects Urban Landscapes) by creating an enfilade between the children’s rooms and the ‘outside.
Seven large, industrial-style overhead doors lining this hallway blur the lines between indoors and out.
So when it rains, children always feel connected to the outdoors.
Working windows and ceiling fans also ensure a comfortable environment during the warmer months of the year.
For infants, there are rooms designed to accommodate cots.
And for the little ones, there’s a suite of connected rooms that can be used as one big space for functions or gatherings, or simply divided by screens.
In addition to the usual features such as sinks, tables and chairs, CO-AP put a lot of thought into creating ways that would engage children.
As a result, there are stage-like plywood structures that perform many functions: from a treehouse environment to slides and cavities, including a separate bean bag area located in a quiet area of this structure.
CO-AP has been equally keen to create an environment for center staff on the first floor, with open-plan offices comprising plywood stations with large portholes that connect to rooftop plantings.
For children and, just as importantly, for parents, Rouse Hill Nursery is an example of what can be achieved with a little thought and careful planning – a place that is stimulating but certainly not crushing.