Harbour Early Learning draws on natural surroundings to inspire new service design
The Sector > Provider > General News > Harbour Early Learning draws on natural surroundings to inspire new service design

Harbour Early Learning draws on natural surroundings to inspire new service design

by Freya Lucas

July 03, 2024

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider Harbour Early Learning has drawn on the natural beauty of its surrounding harbour for inspiration in both the exterior build and interior design of its new service in the prestigious Sydney suburb of Vaucluse. 


The design aims to ‘enhance children’s identities, expand their learning potential and foster a sense of wellbeing’ and is the work of architectural firms SJB and Supercontext and interior designer Danielle Brustman.


Children are connected with their educators, nature, and their broader community in the layout of the service, which expands over three levels, each of which have separate themes, Ms Brustman explained to Architecture AU. 


“The ground floor playrooms talk to themes connected to the water (such as) boats, rainbows, and the sea – and the first floor play rooms relate to themes connecting to the sky (such as) sunsets and clouds,” she explained.


In a departure from the neutral colours used in most early learning settings, the designer has opted for “a complex colour scheme” which includes a variety of colours in paint, surface materials and fixtures. 


The rooms have hand painted murals, floors are inlaid with a number of shapes and designs relating to the theme of each room, and the art sinks and bathrooms are also colour graded. 


“Every room is treated individually to enhance the children’s experience as they move to other rooms as they grow. Each room has a new set of narratives to engage with,” the designer added. 


In planning for and developing the service Harbour Early Learning’s executive director of education Wendy Shepherd prioritised forming a meaningful connection with the local Aboriginal Land Council.


“Reaching out to form a respectful relationship with the traditional custodians of Mo’ring (now known as Vaucluse), has been an ethical, as well as a genuine, and sincere responsibility,” she explained.


“This relationship we have begun to build will deepen our awareness of the traditional and cultural funds of knowledge of the Birrabirragal people, a Dahrug coastal language group, and this information in turn will inform our pedagogy and practices, with the long-term objective of creating respectful relationships and a more knowledgeable, sustainable respect for the land, sea and air.” 


To read the original coverage of this story, and to access a gallery of images, please see here


Image courtesy of Danielle Brustman. Photography by Sean Fennessey.

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