At its essence, the primary function of the Child & Family Centre is to provide a safe, secure yet stimulating environment for children ranging from new-born to pre-school age through the development of the Early Years Centre element of the building. The aim of the Centre is to help children and their parents and guardians to engage with the educational system from an early stage in the child’s development and thereby work to remove the barriers that have heretofore obstructed children from continuing in education. After-school provision is a further element of the Child & Family Centre.
The orientation of the building offers strong connectivity with the rest of the Campus allowing the building footprint to be located as close to the existing 3 metre embankment by the Le Chéile play areas as possible. This proximity avoids a sense of separation of the C.F.C. from the rest of the Campus. Orientating the building perpendicular to this SW – NE ‘Campus Link’ axis offers a more compact solution in achieving this proximity. The orientation of the classroom block was considered in relation to both the sun path and the busy vehicular route of Childers Road to the South. The final position of the building footprint allows the classrooms and external space to benefit the suns natural resources while avoiding a direct relationship opening onto Childers Road.
The general concept for the building layout is to have the children’s classrooms to the South-West side of the building footprint with the services, circulation and administration areas to the North. The main entrance to the building is on the North-East elevation, located along the line of the ‘Campus Link’ route. This double-height space with full height glazing on both sides of the building aims to give a sense of transparency along this axis encouraging a sense of connectivity within the campus. The layout of administration, office, multi-purpose rooms, lift and WCs all accessed off the main double-height entrance space allows this part of the C.F.C. to operate independently of the classroom block if required. The building aims to accommodate the Pen Green & Reggio Emilia teaching methods to facilitate the concept of interactive learning and encouragement of this hands-on approach to education. The layout of the Lower Ground Floor offers the Babies, Wobblers & Toddlers rooms direct access to an external, yet sheltered play space enclosed by a 3 metre embankment on one side and the ‘Campus Link’ & main classroom block of the C.F.C. on the others. This ease of access to the outdoors aims to encourage staff members to make use of the external teaching environment as much as possible. The location of the Pre-school rooms on the Upper Ground Floor will give the older children a sense of development through the centre having progressed or ‘graduated’ from the earlier years below with the hope of continuing their development in the coming years in either Le Chéile N.S. or Gaelscoil Sheoirse Clancy, both visible from the Pre-school classroom windows.
Materials & Elevation Treatment
The elevations of the C.F.C. are designed to complement the existing Le Chéile N.S. building by means of materials used. The Entrance wedge is to be clad in a red fibre cement panel to give emphasis to the ‘Campus Link’ access and define it as the main circulation route. The remainder of the external walls are to be a painted plaster finish in both a dark grey with exaggerated metal expansion joints and a smooth white colour as shown on the Architects Planning drawing set. The window treatment to all child associated spaces within the C.F.C. have a pronounced frame and reveal with a powder-coated finish to one the seven colours of the rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo & Violet. This injection of colour will brighten up external play spaces connected to the classrooms and give the children an opportunity to associate their particular classroom with a certain set of colours, possibly initiating a sense of identity for each child. This rainbow theme is brought onto the North-East elevation of the single-storey service block and the South-West elevation, either side of the ‘Campus Link’ entrance in the form of a rainbow wall painting. The idea behind this is to give the children the feel of walking under the rainbow into their building encouraging the children’s imagination.
Double-height Entrance Space:
Client: Limerick Social Service Council Ltd.
Project Size: 1,053 m²
Completion Date: April 2018