As cities continue to grow space has become increasingly more valuable, which is why Architects must continually exercise creativity when designing urban spaces. As designers, Landscape Architects must act as conscious interpreters of the natural and cultural conditions of a site.
When the opportunity arose for NBRS + Partners to create indoor/outdoor play spaces for the children at Little Bees Childcare Centre, situated in a high-rise building, we rose to the challenge. Under the direction of Andrew Leuchars, Landscape Architect Nick Ison designed four different, yet interconnected play spaces that encourage interaction and creative exploration for children.
Although there were challenges with the high-rise location such as limited outdoor space and weight restrictions with the existing slab, these challenges inspired Nick to think outside the box in terms of his design concept. In order to make the most of the limited outdoor space, Nick brought fluidity to his design by seamlessly incorporating similar colours, lines and materials throughout each room making the spaces appear larger. He included features such as sand pits, artificial turf mounds, mirrors, and chalkboards for writing and drawing.
While Nick made the most of the limited outdoor space, he also designed the sandpits and mounds to be built with lightweight building materials to ensure that the added structures would not exceed the weight limit of the existing slab. By using these lightweight materials and adding fluidity to the design Nick addressed the challenges of the high-rise building while designing modern and innovative spaces. These design features not only enriched the play spaces, but created flexible indoor/outdoor areas ideal for children to grow through imagination and discovery.
In addition to optimising fluidity between the indoor and outdoor play spaces through interactive features with similar materials and colours, Nick designed each play space with a specific group of ages in mind. For younger children, ages 0-2 and 2-3, the play spaces include mirrors and sandpits, but also offer a more open floor plan allowing them to bring in portable toys. Alternatively, the play spaces for 3-5 year olds are comprised of multiple interactive and sensory activities including vegetable gardens, sandpits, climbing mounds and water play. These differences in design not only cater to the interests of children in various age groups but allow for limitless growth and learning, providing endless opportunities for innovation and creativity.
In light of overcoming high-rise design challenges, NBRS has designed a space that boasts a flexible yet functional collection of colourful and vibrant play spaces that will stimulate learning and growth in the lives of children for many years to come. NBRS is thrilled to have designed the indoor/outdoor play spaces for Little Bees Childcare Centre; our first of many rewarding high-rise childcare centres that are yet to come.
*Thanks to Nick Ison for sharing his innovative design strategies, plans, and photos from the Little Bees Childcare Centre located in Parramatta.
** Wall Art designed and painted by The ART of WALL (Sydney Mural Artists & Decorative Painting Services)