- Structural + Civil Engineering: Henry & Hymas
- Landscape Design: Ric McConaghy
- Heritage Architect: Paul Davies
- New Building Area: 760 m2
- Refurbished Building Area: 240 m2
- Playground Landscaping Area (Includes Verandahs): 650 m2
- Site Area: 2080 m2
- Client: University of Technology Sydney
- Architects Team: Thierry Lacoste, David Stevenson, Daniel Beekwilder, Tasmin Dunn, Edward Dieppe, Arash Engineer, Jessica Santos
- City: Chippendale
- Country: Australia
Text description provided by the architects. The new Blackfriars Children’s Centre is a childcare center in Sydney by DJRD and Lacoste + Stevenson, architects in association. The building celebrates the beautifully naive depictions of housing by children. Each playroom in the Centre is in the form of a house as might be drawn by a child; a box with a pitched roof. A sense of home in both scale and materiality creates the feeling of a familiar place.
The overall form is a series of small ‘houses’ continuously connected along the street, each varying slightly in pitch and scale to create an animated streetscape of pitched roofs. The profile of pitched roofs provides a prominent presence for the Centre along Blackfriars Street. The materials used evoke warmth, welcome and transparency. The external façade is a combination of clear glass and glass with a graphic, and painted vertical timber paneling with the gable roof ends clad in a translucent sheet that is illuminated from within.
Colorful timber slats partially screen the internal ‘street’ from the public footpath. Large-format, historic photographs of past events of Blackfriars School connects the new center to the site. The footprint of the building has been designed to respond to and complete the courtyard formed by the heritage buildings. Engagement between the new and old architecture is achieved with the dimpled mirror polished panels which clad the façades facing the heritage buildings. The effect is a playful dialogue of reflections between the new building and the heritage site.
Once inside the rooms are connected by an undulating plywood sensory wall. The procession through to the playrooms is more than just circulation; it connects the internal spaces in a way that incorporates wonderful moments for children to learn and interact in spontaneous ways. The internal rooms are also lined with vertical timber paneling painted white. The playrooms make use of ‘thickened’ walls for storage, cubby spaces and reading nooks.
Timber floors and plywood walls and furniture create warmth within the rooms. The use of rugs and fabric upholstery throughout the center also add softness to spaces and assist other acoustic treatments to ensure active spaces are still acoustically comfortable. Each playroom opens onto an outdoor play area ensuring indoor and outdoor spaces are seamlessly connected creating variety for the children and teachers to adapt to the day and to different activities.