Balgowlah Early Learning Centre


SUPERCONTEXT were engaged in January 2016 to design the adaptive reuse of a state-heritage listed electricity substation into an early learning/long day care centre. Sitting on a prominent corner in a residential neighbourhood, the 1928 brick building supplied surrounding suburbs until 2014 when it was decommissioned, remediated and subsequently sold by the electricity provider, Ausgrid. We were involved to develop feasibility and conceptual approaches to the site to understand its capacity for reuse and development, to retain and conserve the significant industrial heritage fabric and extend the premises into a unique educational premise. After almost a year negotiating the project through approvals at both local council, state planning panel and state heritage level, we secured an approval and construction commenced in late 2017. The building was completed and the centre’s operations begun in January 2019.

The existing heritage core consists of two principle halls – the triple-height ‘handling bay’, and the double-height ‘switch-room’ – that sit at the boundary of the site along two street frontages. Additional transformer bays were subsequently added to the rear of the site and considered of lesser heritage significance were demolished, bricks recycled and usage in the maintenance and restoration of the most significant heritage structures. In the location of these original halls, an extension of approximately 800m2 houses classrooms, indoor/outdoor playspaces and amenities for the centre.

All photos above were taken by Adam Guy Madigan. Subsequent images by taken by Brendan (Bob) Barrett.

Subsequent images by Supercontext.