Genazzano FCJ College Early Learning Centre

Location Cotham Road, Kew VIC
Project Completion 2012
Project Size 1,700m2
Project Description The existing Grange Hill building at Genazzano FCJ College will be redeveloped to accommodate an Early Learning Centre supporting the Reggio Emilia teaching philosophy, which encourages a learning experience characterised by sensory experiences, interaction with the wider school community and self-guidance – where each child actively contributes to his or her own learning path.
The project involves a substantial refurbishment of the existing building to provide improved facilities for children and staff and the addition of a new glazed entrance foyer. The key design challenge was to translate teaching philosophies that are relatively innovative in an Australian context into the confines of a conventional education building originally dating from the Victorian-era, that was substantially extended in the later 20th century. Physical surroundings play a key part in the Reggio Emilia approach to education.

The learning environment is considered a “teacher” in its own right and the design was driven by objectives including the importance of linking indoor and outdoor spaces, ample natural light, a central piazza and providing opportunities for children to interact. The resulting design proposal realises these aims by working with the existing internal circulation to create shared pathways through the building to a central plaza, a new glazed entry to open the building up to the rest of the campus, and the introduction of playful curved structures, floating ceiling frames and new external wall openings to create an intimate scale for three and four year old children’s rooms and a direct connection to the outdoors through a glass roofed courtyard and north facing sensory garden for exploration and discovery.
The project has strengthened the school community’s commitment to the Reggio Emilia approach, by fostering learning within an engaging and inspiring environment.