Playing with Color

ABET LAMINATI is proud to have been specified by uoai for this award winning project (Canadian Interiors Project of the Year).

Working with their client, Network Child Care Services, uoai re-envisioned three childcare centres in downtown Toronto. The setting for each centre varies widely: one is located on the ground floor of a high-rise apartment tower; another within a split-level annex building adjacent to a church; and a third within a 19th century municipal building.

In all three conditions, the architects apply a consistent design approach. A focused set of spatial, material and lighting techniques serve the functional needs of staff, while sparking inspiration and play in the children who use the centers. Within children’s areas, colour is applied to floors, walls and ceilings to conjure perceptions of threshold, passage and enclosure, and to delineate ‘interior rooms’ within larger existing spaces.

Within these ‘interior rooms’ the new cabinetry – which house sinks, counter niches and openings to other spaces – is consolidated into object blocks. Select moments of varying scale appear carved from the blocks, highlighted through the use of colour and lighting. The shifts in scale are important as they invite children to inquire, investigate and consider space in new ways. Large format concrete tile and mirror is used within the staff counter niches, while areas dedicated to children receive colourful small format tile to enliven everyday rituals such as handwashing. Wherever possible, openings are introduced between children’s areas, circulation areas and staff rooms. This allows for glimpses and readings through and across spaces, inviting children to engage in intimate moments of exploration and discovery.

Childcare spaces are required to meet standards for durability and safety, as well as accommodate the daily routines and activities of staff and children. In reimagining these three child care centres, uoai addresses the hard-working functional needs of the facilities, while at the same time, creating atmospheres of play, wonder and delight.