An indoor outdoor garden has been created in the centre of a heritage-listed highrise building in Brisbane to provide an appropriate nature-inspired setting for the Goodstart Early Learning Centre.
Designed by Gray Puksand, in collaboration with landscape architect Greg Thomas at Greenedge Design, a nature-inspired playground has transformed the Goodstart Early Learning Centre situated on the second level of the old ‘Broadway on Adelaide’ building in Brisbane.
Utilising the building’s central atrium skylight, the design for the new space capitalises on the internal space by creating a central rooftop garden and indoor play zone. “Typically, with childcare you need outdoor space, depending on how many children you have,” says Kevin Miles, Brisbane managing partner at Gray Puksand. “Along with [the] new rooftop garden and play area, the atrium space lent itself to that requirement for outdoor space.”
Due to the heritage-listed façade and weight restrictions, the innovative design was not easily achieved. The architects were also prohibited from penetrating the floor slab, so a raised floor was installed in order to create effective drainage.
Working closely with engineers and landscape architects Greenedge Design, designer Gray Puksand developed gardens designs for both the roof and indoor play areas that would cater to a wide range of ages – from newborns to five-year-olds. Each of the 14 learning spaces within the centre open onto the internal playground, which features nature areas and activities like bike circuits, rope bridges, water play and sandpits.
“Children can experience the five senses as they explore the atrium where they can touch the bark of the trees, walk barefoot over the stepping stones and admire the view on raised platforms,” says the education team at Goodstart.
Contributing to the indoor/outdoor sensibility of the space, large openings and windows that open to the outside help to bring natural light and airflow into the rooms. The rooftop space features mechanically-controlled skylights to allow direct access to sunlight and ran, which allows the vegetable gardens to flourish.
Natural materials such as timber and stone were used to bolster the ‘nature’ theme of the landscape and add warmth to the interiors – perhaps helping occupants to forget they are inhabiting a city centre highrise building.
“Bringing that warmth in was crucial,” says Miles. “We wanted it to have a bit more of that home feel, rather than some other centres which can be a bit more clinical.”
Photography Christopher Fredrick Jones