Froebel Early Learning Centre

Project Details

Steffen Welsch Architects


Barkly St, Fitzroy North, VIC 3068 Australia

Steffen Welsch Architects

Shannon McGrath

Project Overview

Froebel Early Learning Centre is a conversion of a derelict school building into a bi-lingual early child care centre. The placement of the facility on the campus and engagement with the adjacent Deutsche Schule Melbourne, a not-for-profit bi-lingual primary school, was initiated by the architect in conjunction with volunteers from the school and the operator, Froebel Australia.

The architecture provides a creative approach to interior spaces, combining the functional requirements of a childcare centre with new pedagogies and engaging design.

Jury Citation:

The Froebel Early Learning Centre in North Fitzroy shows a successful transformation of a two-storey former administration building within a constrained site into a vibrant and spatially complex place with excellent facilities for little children.

Froebel Australia’s vision of a child-centred and play-based learning environment in unity with nature has been successfully interpreted in this project. The beautifully detailed two-storey play pod, the intimate nooks and raised platforms prove to be not only spatially and visually aesthetic, but also cleverly turn mere building regulations into fun and functional elements. The varieties of spaces provided create a colourful, warm and light filled atmosphere and are complemented by a natural and playful outdoor space.

The thorough implementation of environmental principles, the use of sustainable and natural materials and the thermal upgrade of the existing building all add to the holistic design approach of this project.

Congratulations to Steffen Welsch Architects on their highly inspiring, witty and child focussed design and thoughtfully detailed project.

We teamed up with not-for-profit Froebel Australia to build Froebel 's first early learning centre and kindergarten in Melbourne.

Sharing the same site as partners Deutsche Schule Melbourne, the German English bilingual school in North Fitzroy, inner Melbourne, the new Froebel centre offers childcare to 66 children from six weeks to five years.

Our brief was to repurpose former school buildings into an engaging and unique learning environment for young children and their educators and to create a communal hub for the German-Australian community.

The design approach centres on 'rooms within rooms ', creating a diverse variety of intimate nooks and multipurpose environments for play, reading, art. The centre includes a play pod and even a racing track!

Alongside the whimsical, the design provides a superior solution for the hard-working practicalities of running a busy centre. The centre features teaching kitchen for food education, ample storage, and durable, low-toxic materials. Improved thermal performance is achieved through appropriate internal planning, retrofitting insulation and new double glazed doors and windows.

Sustainability is carried through to the outdoor environment. The garden, designed by Christina Silk from Silk Consulting Landscape Architects and Alexandra Gaunt from Lightbox 3D, features a kitchen garden, a shared entry with the Deutsche Schule to encourage meeting and mingling, and a giant slide whizzing from first floor straight into the playground.

Purpose built areas provide educator training facilities for the Stiftung Haus der kleinen Forscher 'Little Scientists ' program Froebel is bringing to Melbourne.

This page last updated: Tuesday 26 May 2015