A presence in the park

New additions and refurbishment of Treetops Children’s Centre, Willesden, London

“A long overdue personal note of thanks for your work on Treetops Children’s Centre. You brought fun both to the design and process and the end result of that are spaces that the children, staff and visitors really enjoy. Some of my favourite features from all my Children’s Centres are at Treetops! We had a good project team but your approach and commitment to the quality of the scheme drove that.”

Cheryl Painting, Project Manager, Brent Council Children & Families Dept

A tired nursery building in King Edward’s Park, squeezed between Willesden Sports Centre and the new Capital City Academy, in need of refreshment, was chosen by LB Brent to upgrade to a Children’s Centre with SCABAL as architects.

Build upon and enhance existing childcare facilities

The project is designed to support the sustainability of Treetops through internal remodelling with new places for babies and improved accommodation for the existing 40 full day-care places. A new block houses a community room/crèche and much needed break-out spaces. A large translucent canopy provides for outdoor play in all weathers, a sheltered route from the park to indoors and a covered buggy and bicycle park.

Create a more welcoming environment for staff & visitors

Access to the building is realigned so movement is between the existing building and the new extension, creating a new front of house with enhanced visual presence. The reception area has been extensively remodelled to provide a more welcoming experience, whilst allowing a secure checkpoint for staff to monitor.

The new block is designed to complement the bold design of the existing building. Of simple block construction with blackboard paint on two sides it can be decorated daily by the children and a green wall cable trellis system on the other side makes it less a building and more a play landscape.

Improve the nursery’s presence in the park

A new boundary fence promotes the new nursery from afar and is supported like the canopy by circular timber posts that interweave between the trees and foliage. The lower band of solid timber panels moves with the surrounding landscape, producing a gentle line to the visitor and a consistently solid face where privacy is required. Above a chain link fabric rises higher than 3m in places, so that the whole is a composite, providing security and transparency where needed in specific measure.

The intention was to enrich this composition with careful perimeter planting that climbs the fence and manages colour, texture, fragrance and wildlife around the site with added playful stencilling on the fence, working like logos in racket strings.

Service: Architects

Location: King Edwards Park, Willesden, London

Client: London Borough of Brent

Description: The extension and refurbishment of nursery to expand on the existing provision in order to provide extended family services alongside full day childcare for children aged 0-5 years old.

Cost: £600,000

Areas: New build and refurbishment

Dates: 2007 – 2008

Contract: JCB Intermediate

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