Brookes Chancellor opens new Children's Centre

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Official opening of local Children's Centre designed by Oxford Brookes interior architects.

An innovative children’s centre, through which architects and students from Oxford Brookes University have raised design standards for early years education buildings, is about to be opened by Brookes’ Chancellor.

Shami Chakrabarti will officially open the £700,000 extension to the Children’s Centre at Grandpont Nursery, on 17 October. The exciting design caters for the needs of young children from age six months to six years. It features differing window shapes, produced individually by local craftsmen and varying ceiling levels which create intimate and cosy spaces where children can rest if they need to. In the communal spaces, windows maximise light and provide views of Grandpont nature reserve.

The building was scoped by architects and senior lecturers at Oxford Brookes, Andrea Placidi and Matt Clay with input from Brookes Interior Architecture students. Brookes worked in close partnership with the nursery staff and Oxfordshire County Council.

Andrea Placidi commented: “Grandpont was an exceptional opportunity for everyone to do something special. The students were enthusiastic about contributing to a project which brings real benefits to the community and without their energy and commitment the project would not have been possible.”

The building houses a range of services to the local community in line with the Government’s Sure Start Programme. These include nursery and day care services, integration and support activities for children with special needs, family community activities, parenting support and courses.

Head teacher of Grandpont Nursery School and Children’s Centre, Elaine M Smith, commented: "We are extremely pleased with our beautiful new building. The space is very versatile and offers cosy home rooms for children to retreat to and an amazing shared space in which to play and explore. Whichever way you look you can see out into the garden, to trees and greenery. It is an environment which we should be offering every child when they are away from their home all day.”

She adds that it is also benefiting staff and the organization as a whole: “The new centre includes a spacious new staff room which enables staff from different parts of the Centre to meet on a daily basis, thus enabling us to work closely as one team.”

But it is not only the staff and children who are delighted with the imaginative space. “My children who are five and three love the centre but they are not the only ones,” commented parent Sarah Gillingham from Grandpont. “We have an active parents group and the open space has given us great scope to use when running our events.”

Oxford Brookes continues to be involved with the nursery’s future, as the current third year interior architecture students are designing child friendly equipment and furniture; a project due to be completed in 2009.