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Child-led cubby house design wins commendation for Melbourne Polytechnic architect

11 May 2017

Kids know what they want and usually don’t have a problem asking for it. So when the children at the North Fitzroy Childcare Cooperative decided the place needed a cubby house, a group of clever parents had no choice but to work out a solution.

The result – a beautiful, egg-shaped structure that explodes the conventional idea of a dark, box-shaped cubby house.

Jean-Paul Rollo, architect, parent and Head of Program for Melbourne Polytechnic’s Bachelor of the Built Environment, leaped with enthusiasm into the project, along with Anthony Clarke, an architect and also parent of a child at the centre.

Alison Bradshaw, the director of the childcare centre, knew she wanted the cubby to look natural and use sustainable materials, but the children drove the discussions about how the cubby would function.

“Originally the kids wanted a treehouse, but after some investigation we found we couldn’t build one in the tree we had in the yard. Jean-Paul and Anthony spoke to the kids and the idea of an egg falling out of the tree evolved,” explained Ms Bradshaw.

The finished product, known as ‘Half Egg’, does indeed look like a giant egg that has just dropped onto the childcare centre’s grounds and broken open for the kids to climb into.

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“The kids enjoyed watching it being built. It was a real community project, designed and built by parents” says Ms Bradshaw. "The steel frame was built in the CERES workshop, and the kids saw photos of it as it developed.”

Building materials were donated by construction company Krongold. Once the frame was completed, it was transported to the childcare centre, where a group of parents completed the woodwork components over many weekends.

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“The construction was done like a jigsaw puzzle. The kids loved being part of the process and watching it take shape,” Ms Bradshaw says.

“We were lucky to have a lot of the required skills among the parents at the centre, and we saw a real opportunity to create something very special,” says Jean-Paul Rollo.

“Fortunately we also had the services of Ben Hillier, who is an artisan steel worker. We developed the concept of the egg with the kids and incorporated our ideas of protection, shelter, and sanctuary, to come up with the final protective shell structure.”

Subsequently, Half Egg won a commendation for the team in the ArchiTeam Awards 2016, “Community” category. However, the best testament to its success is the enjoyment the children of the centre get out of playing in its unique, beautiful curves.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES

Media enquiries should be directed to Melbourne Polytechnic Media Officer, Anita Coia, on 03 9269 1251 or ua.ud1511602058e.cin1511602058hcety1511602058lopen1511602058ruobl1511602058em@ai1511602058dem1511602058

Melbourne Polytechnic operates across seven campuses and five specialist training centres throughout Melbourne. The institute delivers high quality vocational and higher education in industry-standard facilities.