Designed by Steffen Welsch the Froebel Early Learning Centre in Melbourne has undergone a transformation. From a derelict old brick school building into a place where a child's imagination and capacity for play is cherished - with a slide that takes children from the top level to the playground below even!
The bi-lingual (English and German) speaking centre offers childcare to 66 children from 6 weeks to five years and is part of the existing Deutsche Schule Melbourne campus.
A two-level play pod, reading nooks, a ‘Little Scientists’ corner, a kitchen theatre – are just some of the features that make the centre a magical place for children that facilitates learning opportunities on many different levels – playful language learning, science & maths, health & nutrition, nature experiences and appropriate risk-taking.
Custom joinery includes natural and coloured timber stairs ascending to a stage, a sloping slide and an abundance of storage and nooks between.
The ceiling is also considered with "floating" grey clouds.
All considers the scale of the child and intends to challenge them physically and imaginatively.
Materials and colour are used intentionally - to both accentuate the existing warmth of the brick and to inject play and flexibility into an otherwise rigid and timeless structure.
Above, textured mounds or "hills" are cleverly transplanted over the shallow timber stairs down to a covered courtyard and sandpit.
The centre provides both group "play" rooms and shared spaces, such as the "kitchen theatre" seen below where children can stand atop yellow platforms and learn all about food and healthy eating.
Indeed a variety of spaces are provided for a wide array of learning types - "workbenches" for individual learning, tables and chairs for groups of four....
It's a centre that I'm sure Friedrich Froebel himself would be proud of - inhabiting his pedagogical theory of "learning through play".