Project: Guardian Early Learning Group
Senior Architect: Christina Markham
Practice: SJB Architects
Guardian Early Learning Group own and operate more than 55 early learning centres in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra, making them one of the leading childcare centre providers in Australia. Planex’s Alexandra Duke worked closely with senior architect Christina Markham (SJB architects) in response to SJB’s brief for the Early Childhood Learning Centre for eight centers across VIC, QLD, SA and ACT.
The brief for the most recent project in Charlotte Street, Brisbane (opened June 29th) involved creating units that could be customised to suit the client, catering to a child-friendly, nurturing and collaborative atmosphere. This included being fully mobile and creating products for a flexible environment. There were strict plans around area calculations to take into account when choosing from a number of different Planex units.
Christina said: “In order to respond to the child-friendly requirements of the brief, the products have modified finishes. The customised storage units were created to store children’s toys, ensuring it has flexibility to enable educators to set up the dimensions of units, making it low in height to interact and see over, but still high enough to create a level of division between spaces.”
Inspired by the standard Planex range, Christina worked with Planex to create customised S-Series mobile shelving for children. Castors make the S-Series the perfect solution for childcare facilities, allowing for maximised floor space. The product features open shelving and lockable doors locks.
In addition, staff lockers were created based on the new xLocker series. xLocker is an innovative storage solution, suited to activity-based-working and end-of-journey environments. The addition of a new patented joining system allows faster assembly on site and reduces the number of tools required to assemble, making it easier to reconfigure.
Alexandra said: “When coming up with custom solutions for designers, where possible I like to build around standard Planex items that can be tweaked in response to the client’s brief."
She continues, "In doing this, I was able to ensure a cost effective solution was achieved while maintaining the product’s modularity. I was able to advise Christina from the initial stages about the sensitivities of working with sheet metal, giving clear indications of what can and cannot be achieved from a technical perspective. This translated into a seamless solution without compromising on the design intent.”
The design of the Planex products and selection of castors ensures there is no risk of children injuring themselves or getting their hands or feet stuck beneath the cabinet. The specific child safety requirements made this project differ from most others, because of these features, which is why Planex’s highly customisable ethos worked well, and the whole process was seamless.
Words by Deveta Patel (Zilla & Brook)