The new Blackfriars Children's Centre, picture by Andrew Worssam
New centre keeps an educational tradition alive
15 Nov 2017
The new purpose-built Blackfriars Children's Centre has been officially opened this week, designed to meet increased demand for childcare from UTS staff and students, ABC staff and parents in the surrounding community
The new centre is a major boost for UTS Child Care, which can now offer 84 childcare places – 34 more than its previous premises
Chippendale's old Blackfriars school might be the haunt of university researchers these days, but a new childcare centre at the precinct is keeping alive more than a century of children's education on the site.
The new purpose-built Blackfriars Children's Centre has been officially opened this week, designed to meet increased demand for childcare from staff and students of the University of Technology Sydney, ABC staff with young children and parents in the surrounding community.
The new centre is a major boost for UTS Child Care, which has operated on the Blackfriars site since 1995. It can now offer 84 childcare places – 34 more than its previous premises, which is within sight of the newly opened building.
CEO Debra Clarke said that in preparation for their big move, which will happen at the beginning of next week, the children had been playing with puzzles featuring artists' impressions of the new building and watching the construction from the safety of their current playground.
Children's learning and development needs are at the forefront of the centre's design, with key spaces including five playrooms, large dining area with commercial-grade kitchen, large wrap-around undercover balcony and extensive outdoor play areas.
Outside, children have access to sandpits, a chicken pen (for much-loved hens Rosie and Sara), raised veggie garden for children to plant, soft-fall play spaces and even a build-your-own-cubby area.
"While we give priority to UTS students, we are open to the local community and welcome residents and workers," Ms Clarke said. "We have vacancies for 2-5 year olds at the moment, so very happy to welcome these enquiries."
One of the centre's most notable architectural features is a series of pitched roofs that echo the shapes of adjacent stone heritage buildings and the Victorian terrace houses that line surrounding streets.
The precinct has a legacy of learning that stretches back to 1884 when the NSW Department of Education established the Blackfriars Public School on the site.
This history is celebrated in the new centre's design, with black and white images from the school's past featuring prominently on the façade and inside.
The building was designed by architects DJRD and Lacoste + Stevenson, with construction by Ichor Constructions beginning in February this year.