Balgowlah Zone Substation : Adaptive Reuse

Photo by Hamish McIntosh
Project Information/Data

The Giraffe Early Learning Centre project is situated in Sydney, Australia, close to one of the city’s iconic beaches (Manly). The project principally involved the restoration and reuse of a piece of Sydney’s industrial heritage – a decommissioned electricity substation that had supplied the surrounding suburbs since 1928 until 2014. The brick substation building is heritage listed and protected on the register of state-significant buildings in New South Wales, occupying a prominent street corner in an otherwise typical Sydney suburban context.

The project involved converting and extending the heritage building into a purpose-built kindergarten / early learning centre for over 140 children. The steep site was surrounded by suburban houses requiring substantial protection from noise. A new addition is nestled behind the 3-storey volume of the original substation to provide new classrooms and play areas, while in the portions of the site not occupied by the heritage building a large basement was excavated into Sydney sandstone to provide on-site pick-up and drop-off arrangements for children. The main street elevation uses an extruded terracotta system, using a varying combination of 150mm and 300mm horizontal tiles on a rail system to create an approximated brick-bond pattern, and elsewhere, the project uses mainly suburban materials from weatherboard to corrugated iron, working with the materials of the residential context typical in the Sydney suburbs. Colour is used throughout the design of the centre to produce a playful interior aesthetic.

Giraffe Childcare Group Pty Ltd

Supercontext Team
Andrew Daly, Janelle Woo, Colette Hortle

Consultant Team
SDA Structures, Wood and Grieve, Kate Mitchell Landscape Design, GTA Traffic, CityPlan Heritage

Awards + Publication
Dulux 33rd International Colour Award - Grand Prix Winner, Commercial Interiors Winner, Australian Institute of Architects NSW Shortlist: Education and Heritage

Adam Guy Madigan
Brendan Barrett
Hamish McIntosh