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The "Story Pod" is a simple yet clever black box that folds itself out to reveal a trove of books

Here sits the Story Pod - a shining example of how architecture (even small and simple as this) may impact a community - providing pockets of space within the urban framework that invite interaction, rest and contemplation.

Conceived as a community project, the Story Pod is an inventive gathering spot for learning and engagement created by the efforts of both private and public supporters.  Atelier Kasteli Buffey completed the architecture and design pro bono. HollisWealth provided funds for construction, while Scholastic Publishing and the Newmarket Public Library supplied the initial collection of books.

Simple boxes are layered to create seats and nooks for inhabiting. 

The simple material palette of clear oil stained ply and lumber sits in contrast with its black exterior.

Traditional board and batten is made modern with sleeker battens at closer spacings. Made wider where glazing offers views to the books inside.

Simple, yet well considered and detailed. These simple insertions into our built environment for all ages to enjoy provide places not just spaces.

Via Dwell.

A clever and sensitive adaptation of existing buildings into community spaces to be enjoyed by young and old

Designed by FON STUDIO in China, Town Folktales is the first installment of the regeneration of a collection of old 1950s buildings that used to contain a printing plant.

The first two old brick and tile buildings have been cleverly and sensitively re-imagined with a restrained yet bold language of curving white forms and geometric insertions (void and extrusions) playfully adapting the empty space into zones catering to a variety of uses.

Building (or Depot) A's entry features a bold white curving geometric framed form complete with wall-light and signage.

Building (or Depot) B's entry features a square black framed extrusion with green accent internally..

The open and flexible architectural programme include spaces designed for dining, reading and creative activity for the community. 

Love the ribbon-like laminated timber panelling curving around the walls to form bench seating, window shading, book display and cupboard storage.

Book shelving is integrated with the drop-down ceiling bulkhead helping to frame the space, whilst being semi-transparent to allow light and visual hints to permeate through

Folding sleek black steel framed joinery is used to subtly divide space internally.

Materially (and aged) woods are pared wtih contemporary laminated timbers and smooth white plaster.

Overall, Fon Studio have created a winning space for this Chinese Community that is inclusive of all (young and old) whilst protecting and giving new life to a collection of existing and un-used buildings.

A care facility that breaks conventional institutional moulds

This disability care and accommodation centre for both adults and children seeks to 'de-institutionalise' the typical care facility by providing a dynamic curving plan and facades, sensory-inviting materials and a 'domestic-type' layout with communal (i.e. kitchen & lounge) facilities located centrally.

Designed by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects (JCBA), the Coppel & Piekarski Family Disability Respite Centre by Jewish Care in Caulfield, Victoria provides short-term accommodation and care for children and adults with varying disabilities while allowing carers to have essential time out.

The building typology is similar to that of the late-modern approach to early childhood centres - with its curving layout in plan and all spaces leading off a central core enabling great connections to the outdoors, to natural sunlight and cross-ventilation.

Special attention has been paid to the way the building approaches the street and wider community, with the "out-stretched" and welcoming semi-transparent canopy (an abstracted symbolic gesture referencing the ‘Star of David’), semi-transparent (and not too high) fencing, way-finding signage and landscaped areas (including sculptures and areas for rest and play).

Round skylights help to imbue the internal spaces with natural daylight, whilst colourful glazed bricks internally break up the neutral brick palette and provides a sense of delight to the spatial experience.

Colours used internally in the glazed bricks are then echoed cleverly to the outdoor play-scapes - with colourful turf sporting mounds, patterns and play equipment for the younger inhabitants of the centre.

“Jewish Care Victoria welcomed and encouraged an architectural approach that re-imagined the care-facility typology, and they sought a domesticity that was seen as an extension of a guest’s home,” says JCBA Project Architect Rob Majcen.

It is an approach that is taken by many EC architectural typologies and could be said should be applied to many others....

Via InDesign.

An urban situated centre provides a miniature city for its children

Nestled within urban Sydney, Australia - Darlinghurst is a highly considered and quality centre for early childhood: East Sydney Early Learning Centre.

Designed by Andrew Burges Architects, the project called for adapting an existing 1920s brick warehouse into a 4-storey EC centre and top-floor community space. 

The bridge + outdoor play

Due to a laneway running adjacent to the building - the architects have created a "tree-house" bridge to connect the internal spaces with the outdoor playspaces.

Above: Models showing options for how this connecting bridge might take shape and incorporating the existing trees on site.

The light lattice-type bridge structure appears to float - still allowing plenty of light into the public lane. New sandstone steps were provided leading down from the street.

Once across the connecting bridge you arrive at a deck which delicately preserves the existing trees with powder-coated green and white fencing to stop children falling through.

Below this deck are concrete ramps, turf-surfaces, a sandspit, a 'stage' with windows (or holes through the floor) to the deck above and a gazebo offering shelter and a place to sit.

The 'mini-city' concept

Commonly used by architects when designing EC centres - is the concept of the miniature town or village (see here and here). Varying sized 'houses' are placed within the building framework and thus are able to divide space into varying zones for different functions. The 'left-over' space is used as public squares, streets and pathways for random social interactions and uses.

The concept model above shows the various house shapes that are used to organise the centres' space.

The diagram above showing the 'random' placement of houses and the connection of with the adjacent 'tree-house' bridge and outdoor play space.

Above: the diagram shows the top-floor being kept open to the sky with house forms connecting multiple floors.

An aerial image showing the site's location within Sydney. The early childhood centre could be seen as a metaphorical reflection of its greater context.

Different surface materials further help to break down the space into zones - for walking, sitting, playing....

The top-most storey is partly left open to the sky - with the sandpit envisaged as a central plaza - or meeting space.

The 'houses' providing windows connecting to the outside. Seen above left - a window to the sandspit, and right to the laneway from off the street.

A rich palette of mostly natural materials have been used - stained timbers, pale birch ply, grooved linings, concrete, steel and brick (to name a few).


Another (very cool) feature is the custom-designed signage - designed by Toko inspired by children's building blocks.

The signage works to reflect the language of both modern modular architecture which is broken down into purist forms; as well as reflecting the seeds of early childhood - the Froebel system of play objects or 'gifts' to aid in a child's development through creative play - read more on this here and here.

The plan and wall elevations above investigate how the various spaces will be used and moved through - considering materiality and scale.

A big congratulations must be made to East Sydney Learning and Andrew Burges Architects for a highly considered approach to designing for EC in what is a tricky existing site.

Via ArchDaily, Dezeen and BPO.

Amanenomori Nursery


The three-storey Amenenomori Nursery designed by Aisaka Architects' Atelier in Japan, places "play" at its core - with a grassy "green" including mound, ponds with miniature wharfs over and a sandpit, ladder and slide connecting the ground with the terraced deck level above.

Seen above, one side of the grassy mound features a climbing wall. 

Administrative spaces are aligned along the centre's entry allowing views to the playground and ensuring visual surveillance.

A key design characteristic is the fantastic decked rooftop and gardens, offering views over the inner courtyard play area and out to the surrounding neighbourhood.

The architects chose to keep the material palette natural and minimal, opting instead to celebrate the essence of the material - the natural weathered patina of timber, the cold and unforgiving hardness of steel.

The Level 1 deck leads up to a Level 2 top-storey - with terraced steps leading up like a mountain.

Internally, the neutral and minimal material palette continues. Ambient light, including natural light wells and narrow spaces offers natural cross-ventilation, creating a comfortable and healthy environment.

Seen above left, light dances across the right wall leading from ground floor to the L2 roof above.

The design with its many decks, stairs, ramps and bridges and tilting, curving planes (floors and walls) allow for a multitude of spatial experiences.

Meal times in early education & care in Japan play an important role in the day. Seen above, a window set at the children's height allow them to witness how food is prepared. On the rooftop, a vegetable and herb garden teaches children about how food is produced (and grown).

3D diagrams showing the concept - 1) Inner green 2) wrapping climbing floor around the inner green 3) external walls to cloak the interior with cuts allowing controlled exterior elements inside.

Section through mound (on left) and the levels with rooftop terrace (decks and gardens) on top. The architects integrated environmental principles into their design making the most of the natural sun, air (cross-ventilation), rain (with harvesting and recycling tanks), thermal (under-ground) heat storage and light (among others).

The architects (as often displayed in Japanese architecture) have at Amamenomori Nursery successfully utilised space. Maximising the potential for social connectivity / inclusion and in encouraging active exploration and physical movement, whilst also creating a safe and comfortable environment for the young children.


site by Ana Degenaar