The Willows Early Learning Centre, Christchurch - Smith Architects | ArchiPro

The Willows Early Learning Centre, Christchurch

The Willows Early Learning Centre in Christchurch can be described as a ‘pavilion in the park’, where a modulating, geometric roof forms a tree-like canopy over the building.  The timber frame building is simple and functional, where the form and organisation of interior and exterior spaces has been developed in direct response to the site. The low-lying, rectangular building sits centered on the site, with a sheltered outdoor playground nestled behind the building, and a carpark and drop-off point for parents at the front.

The five main playrooms are situated around the edge of the building, and all receive plenty of natural light through the extensively glazed façade. The entrance features a ‘pop-up’ roof, providing the centre with a light-filled, welcoming space for parents and children.

The roof structure is a framework of angled timber beams supported by joists, suspended under the primary roof structure. A series of triangular panels covers the timber framework to form the canopy that extends outwards over the edge of the building to create a sheltered threshold between interior and exterior spaces. The plywood panelling that features along the exterior structure brings warmth and softness into the building, and when sunlight is reflected from the timber panels, a warm luminous glow is created, lighting up the interior spaces of the building.

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