skyplay-north perth school of early learning

Project: JV with Tom Godden Architects

Location: North Perth, Western Australia

Status: Completed 2018

Builder: EMCO Building

Photographer: Peter Bennetts


The newest addition for Western Australia’s family owned Schools of Early Learning, aptly dubbed ‘Skyplay’, is a multi-storey centre accommodating 114 children.

Tom Godden Architects together with Matthew Crawford Architects have created a bespoke building where a key focus was to align the design with the progressive philosophies of the Municipal Schools of Reggio Emilia, Rudolf Steiner, Maria Montessori and the International Baccalaureate of which Schools of Early Learning base their teaching approach; where the physical environment is considered as much of a learning tool as the curriculum.

The compact suburban site necessitated a different design approach to the Schools previous centres where the 1907 Heritage Listed North Perth Police Station at the Angove St frontage, a longitudinal sewer easement, a rear Right of Way and a mature Heritage Eucalypt Tree in the south-west corner of the site demanded a vertical approach to the design.

Indoor spaces are directly adjacent to outdoor play areas, enabling the seamless supervision of children. Permanently protected outdoor areas allow children to play comfortably all year round. A double-height ‘studio’ sits at the heart of the building and acts as a home for whole-of-centre performances and gatherings. The use of large glass windows and setback mezzanines internally encourages children to vertically interact with other age groups on different levels.

Typical bright painted walls are replaced with natural, raw materiality that is hardwearing, calming and organic. Off-form concrete, steel and plywood panels act as a mute backdrop for the vibrancy that fills the space – laughing children, colourful toys, artwork and playful furniture. A connection to nature is prominent in the design with several real, sustainably sourced trees sensitively incorporated into the building. Natural ventilation breathes easily through the permeable structure, with setback internal areas subject to year round shading that minimises cooling costs.

The Skyplay concept is about dynamic vertical spaces and interaction across levels, giving children the opportunity to play both in the ‘sky’ and on the ground.