Heritage, respect and play inform our latest commercial project, an almost-century old congregational church reimagined as a childcare centre.
Our client approached the studio excited by our work on the Mater Hospital Special Care Nursery, and wanting a similarly personal approach to transform the run-down church into a nurturing and inspiring place for children to learn, play and grow.
Keen to harness our residential expertise, our client’s brief was to create a space that would feel like a second home for the centre’s little inhabitants.
The church has a long history, but more recently the Hornsby Council considered demolishing it, so neglected had the building become. Restoration, therefore, was a priority, but an extension was also necessary to house the plans for the childcare centre.
Respect, both of past and future, has been central to our design. Granted the opportunity to give the building a second life, we set out to preserve almost one hundred years of architectural history. A designer’s dream foundation, we drew off the church’s structure, reinterpreting original details by incorporating arch shapes, large volumes and earthy hues.
Modern design elements introduce a new life into the space that is appropriate for children. We considered the space from a child’s-eye view, designing from the ground up. A miniature kitchen and dining table offer hours of imaginative fun, a climbing wall for indoor activity, and a ‘wall of fame’ to show off the children’s art work.
Pint-sized nooks and hidey-holes infuse the space with a sense of adventure, and tiny furniture ensures the kids will feel a pride of place in the space designed just for them.
While honouring what came before, we also wanted to respect the future, and the future generations that would be nurtured within the historic walls. To this end, the construction process has been a story of reducing waste, reusing and recycling, at every point being mindful of the environment and the generations to come.
Premium grade plywood, Bolon flooring (made from recycled plastic) and low VOC paints were among some of the finishes carefully selected to be both environmentally friendly and sustainable. We used natural timber for both the joinery and some furniture pieces, which was made from the trunks of trees removed during the renovation.
As well as approaching the project with an eco-conscience, we also set out to nurture a relationship with the centre and the surrounding bushland. The trunk-made furniture is part of a larger story that includes an oversized mural inspired by local fauna and flora, earthy shades of terracotta, natural materials such as wool rugs, and timber kept purposefully raw.
Now halfway through the construction process, we’re feeling as excited to see the finished result as we were on our first day of school. We can’t wait to see the centre come to life and continue to grow as it cares for each child who steps inside.