From the outset both the design team and client agreed that the major inspiration for the design of the Ladybird Early Learning Centre should inspire young minds through the creative use of natural light, views, internal and external spatial sequences. In keeping with this, and the LEED Gold aspiration, the team created a simple contemporary structure that responds to the site and environment in a holistic approach.
The building comprises three primary wings radiating from a central heart containing the reception, a café for parents to congregate and internal play areas. Two of these wings contain classrooms with the third allocated for offices, administration and an employee area.
All classrooms facing onto the courtyard have large glazed screens that open onto shaded play decks that further blurs the distinction between inside and out encouraging the children learn through exploration.
Internal gardens with bi-fold doors allow for seamless integration between internal and external spaces. In the cooler months these expand the potential play area for the pupils.
This interior landscape was designed to enable pupils to learn by discovery and exploration. Internal streets with road markings and roundabouts, and even a duck pond, are punctuated with houses between each open classrooms to represent an exterior landscape which can only be accessed in the winter months. The houses double as bathrooms, storage and washing facilities for both children and adults. Each of the age groups is represented by a different color of ladybird to delineate departments. The interior is also linked directly with the exterior landscape both visually and physically flooding the central spaces with light.
The building is orientated to miniseries solar gain and provide easy flow of traffic from the surrounding road system. A simple palette of white render and colored ceramic tiles was used in conjunction with colored features to aid location of entrances and way-finding. Colorful signage increase the visual presence of the school along the key transport routes.