An iconic, heritage-listed building in Brisbane has been transformed into a nature-inspired childcare centre.

Designed by Gray Puksand, the Goodstart Early Learning Centre on Adelaide Street finds its home on level two of the old ‘Broadway on Adelaide’ building. The design for the new childcare centre makes the most of existing architecture within the building, particularly the former city mall’s central atrium skylight. The architects – along with Greenedge Design – capitalised on this internal space to create a central rooftop garden and an indoor play area.

“Typically, with childcare you need outdoor space, depending on how many children you have,” says Kevin Miles, Brisbane managing partner at Gray Puksand. “Along with [the] new rooftop garden and play area, this atrium space lent itself to that requirement for outdoor space.” 


But creating these spaces wasn’t all child’s play. Dealing with a heritage-listed fa├žade and an existing ground-floor tenancy, there were limitations in terms of weight restrictions. The architects were also prohibited from penetrating the floor slab.


Landscape architect Greg Thomas at Greendege Design developed suitable designs for the roof and indoor play areas, as well as installing a raised floor for drainage. 

The centre has 14 learning spaces that are required to cater to all a wide range of ages, from newborns to five-year-olds. Each of these learning spaces opens onto the internal playground that features nature areas and equipment, such as bike circuits, rope bridges, water play, and sandpits. Operable windows and large openings maximise sunlight and breezes through this space, contributing to the sense of being outdoors even while indoors.


“[C]hildren can experience the five senses as they explore the atrium where they can touch the bark of the trees, walk barefoot over the stepping stones and admire the view on raised platforms,” says the education team at Goodstart.

Materials such as natural timbers and stone were selected with the intention of bringing warmth to the interiors.

“Bringing that warmth in was crucial,” says Miles. “We wanted it to have a bit more of that home feel, rather than some other centres which can be a bit more clinical.” 


The childcare centre’s rooftop space was designed with mechanically-controlled skylights that give the vegetable gardens access to sunlight and rain.