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Educare Early Learning Centre – Commercial Architectural Design

Completed new Educare
Existing Masonic Lodge
original entry to building
Completed Educare and playground
Completed Educare and playground
Exterior play area
interior of original lodge
Play areas divided by large sliding doors
Play areas leading out to the covered deck
Interior childrens area for older ages
Light filled play areas
Eating area looking across to the kitchen area
Commerical kitchen
Young childrens area towards dining
Outdoor covered dining area
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Project Brief

The Masonic Lodge interior was dark and imposing, however the wooden structure, with gabled roof-lines and a high stud, was reminiscent of an old villa, and was the initial design influence. 

A happy balance is achieved between meeting strict hygiene requirements, visual safety of children and a friendly welcoming environment.   The Early Learning Centre has breathed new life into this original building, the beautiful floors restored and the Interior flooded with light and warmth. 

Project description

The long drive took you down amongst the residential scale housing and the imposing structure was very dominating and sterile with its lack of gardens, and with the gravelled expanse surrounding the building.

The unusual crucifom-shaped timber framed building was clad with timber weatherboards and roofed with corrugated iron. The purpose-built Masonic Lodge Tawera-O-Kapiti was built in 1930 and utilised as a lodge up until the last few years. 

Once the lodge relocated, the building was used by various groups until purchased by Educare, to be developed as an Early Learning Centre. Educare was opened in 2015 and the transformation has been dramatic.

The original architecture was specifically designed to be very inwardly focused, with very high narrow windows to the main hall and a utilitarian kitchen opening off the dining hall.

Design features & creative solutions

The interior was dark and imposing, not very conducive to making young children and their families feel relaxed and welcome. From the outset, the wooden structure, with gabled roof-lines and a high stud, was reminiscent of an old villa, and was the initial design influence.

The brief was to redesign the existing building to incorporate a new early learning centre for Educare Kapiti. Spaces designed for under 2’s, age 2s to 3s, plus a 4 and over area, were needed. The cruciform shape was used to Educare’s advantage, with an extension to the western side to provide the addition of a sleep room and toilet facility for the under 2’s.

New Architectural Design

We needed to apply for a resource consent, with signing from 13 neighbours, undertaken by Cuttriss Consultants, complying with strict acoustic requirements. There were also Ministry of Education guidelines and of course the NZBC to comply with. The Educare values are learn, laugh and play – quality childcare with a strong emphasis on safety and nurture.

Large windows with low sills were incorporated to flood the interior with natural light and warmth, and to allow children to view the play areas. French doors open onto new timber decks and double hung windows provide passive ventilation without compromising the safety of the children inside. 

Creative Deck and Verandah Ideas

The new southern entry way to the building, marked by the new glazed verandah, provides shelter from wind and rain. The new entry doors lead into a friendly reception area with sight-lines through to the various age group areas. The reception area can also be closed off with large sliding doors when required. Expansive timber floors have been restored and the warmth and tactile quality of timber provide a homely feel.

Comfortable places for small children

Large verandahs provide shelter and a place for all of the children to congregate for meals on a warm day. The verandahs and decking also help lower the sense of scale, so as not to be intimidating to the young children.

A happy balance is achieved between meeting strict hygiene requirements, visual safety of children and a friendly welcoming environment. Light colours and extensive acoustic wall treatment provide a backdrop for the children’s artwork, which provides colour and texture in the Educare interior. 

Project Credits

Planning Consultant – Cuttriss

Traffic Consultant – Barclay Traffic Planning

Structural Engineer – Craig McGhie ISP

Fire Engineer – Craig McGhie – Seajay Consulting

Builder – Jamie Woodgate Ultrabuild

Interior Design – Clients

Photographer – Asset Imagery