MercyCare has completed its new architecturally designed Ellenbrook Early Learning Centre in Perth’s northern suburbs. The centre on Goodwood Crescent takes its inspiration from MercyCare’s federation buildings at its original site in Wembley with red brick, timberwork, deep verandas, dominant roofline and attention to detail.

According to MercyCare interim CEO David Holden, the most impressive feature of the new centre is its 350sqm of natural outdoor play space.

“The outdoor space at Ellenbrook ELC has been designed by a specialist landscape architect and the result is truly incredible,” says Holden.

“The space encourages children’s natural curiosity in a stimulating, innovative and natural environment. Materials for the sensory play space such as natural wood and native plants have been chosen to encourage children to interact with the natural environment. 

“Sand, rock mounds, wood, fragrant plants, mud and water play spaces, as well as flat paths for bike riding and grassy peaceful areas enhance sensory play and promote learning through hands-on activities.” 

Internally, the architects have created a light and open space with high ceilings, large play rooms, a balance of stimulating and calming colours and a homely feel. The centre has been designed in a U shape to ensure that during all stages of the sun’s movement there is shade, light and warmth.

Ellenbrook ELC also features a flexi hub which can be used after hours as a parenting centre and for group meetings.

Holden says MercyCare undertook a collaborative design approach to create a childcare centre for the future.

“We have designed and built an Early Learning Centre that we hope will be the benchmark for the next 20 years for flexible learning spaces designed in an agile building. We have gathered inspiration from centres around the world that are focusing on contemporary models of learning where children grow and develop in inspiring and engaging spaces.”

MercyCare engaged landscape architects Emerge Associates and SPH Architecture + Interiors for the project, which was built by MetroWest. The project followed six design principles including providing safety and security, creating a nurturing environment, creating an environmentally responsible building and designing a building that supported staff, families and the community.

Indigenous artist Michael Cummings was commissioned to create artworks for the centre that would engage and intrigue the children. Cummings created several paintings which tell the dreamtime stories of native animals including goannas, geckos, kangaroos, turtles and snakes.