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Vertical preschool among new Sydney childcare centres by Fox Johnston and Andrew Burges

Construction has begun on two new childcare centres in Sydney, a 60-place vertical preschool in Darlinghurst designed by Andrew Burges Architects, and a 74-place centre in Green Square on the site of the former South Sydney Hospital by Fox Johnston. Both childcare centres adaptively reuse the existing buildings they will be housed in.

The new childcare centres are part of six centres fast-tracked by the City of Sydney to ameliorate a shortage of early education places in the city. Plans are also underway for centres in Sydney Park, Alexandria, and Annandale.

On Bourke Street in Darlinghurst, Andrew Burges Architects pipped 19 other practices to win a design competition to transform an industrial brick building into a three-storey childcare centre with an open-air playspace on each floor.

The centre will also be connected to the existing John Birt Memorial Playground across a laneway via a bridge. A multi-functional community facility and kitchen will also be included in the centre.

Andrew Burges Architects' three storey  childcare centre will feature an open-air playspace on each floor.

Andrew Burges Architects’ three storey childcare centre will feature an open-air playspace on each floor.

Image: Courtesy Andrew Burges Architects

Fox Johnston were commissioned to transform the heritage-listed outpatient building at South Sydney Hospital as part of an overall transformation of the Green Square precinct. Their childcare centre will be completed in 2017 along with a Peter Stutchbury-designed arts hub and outdoor community centre, a new park and children’s playground designed by landscape architect Crag Burton and a stormwater recycling facility in the former administration building by CHROFI.

Fox Johnston’s design proposes to retain an existing L-shaped structure and add a contemporary wing and verandah to create a U-shaped building that hugs a new playspace.

The existing heritage roof cowls will also be retained and modified as ventilation stacks and skylights. The queen post trusses of the existing structure will be exposed and highlighted in the new design.

A verandah that will wrap around three sides of the building, made from a series of raised timber platforms, will serve as outdoor classrooms for passive play and craft.

A new nature playspace at the northern part of the site will feature sensory paths, raised garden beds, fruit tree groves, an outdoor kitchen and a digging area. The playspaces will also include soft rubber mounds and spikes for children to roll, climb and slide on.

The centre is one of two to be built in Green Square, which is expected to have a population 53,000 when the the urban regeneration of the 278-hectare precinct is complete.

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