expression balances playful and civic qualities

Marrickville NSW, 2013

The Plumtree Childcare Centre is a state-of-the-art Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Childcare Centre located on the edge of a local park in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville. The building houses carefully crafted learning spaces and administrative areas in a playful and robust building form.

We ran the project from concept to completion over two separate design and construction stages. The first stage comprised the boundary integration and accessibility upgrade of a neighbouring house. The larger second stage consisted of a major addition and upgrade to the existing childcare centre fronting Jarvie Park.

Plumtree Childcare is a not-for-profit centre that provides family-focused services to children with disabilities between the ages of 0 and 7 years and their families. In addition to on-site services, Plumtree carry out a lot of home visits for profoundly disabled kids. The completed building combines spaces for group and individual care and therapy downstairs and ‘hot-desking’ office space for over 30 carers upstairs. Each of the three childcare rooms has a corresponding outdoor space with learning and therapeutic activities similarly integrated into the landscape works.

The center is designed to be as family friendly as possible. At a distance its urban edge engages the park with a burst of warm metallic colour that changes hue as the day progresses. On approach striped bands of colour reveal depth in the building and trace the profile of a small house framing the main entry vestibule providing a recognisable ‘figure’ for visiting children. Reveals are lined in continuous ribbons of warm, vibrant colours. A sheltered pathway passes right through the entry as a gesture to openness. Materials are detailed to be robust and carefree for up to 20 years. Inside, a clean palette sets a neutral backdrop for the daily life of the building to play out.

The Plumtree Childcare project reconciles conflicting issues of scale, amplifies the centre’s presence on Jarvie Park and uses colour to bring the dominant expression of the building down to the scale of the children. The design also solved security,  flight path noise and 1 in 100 year flooding issues in its resolution. Most importantly the project offers a memorable and endearing built character to the Centre for the benefit of the children and their families.


Client: Pathways ECI Inc Services: Architecture

PROJECT TEAM: RAW Architects, Adam Russell, Imogene Tudor, Nick Sargent Landscape: Carmichael Studios Structure: Cantilever Consulting Engineers Electrical: Steensen Varming Builder: Total Construction