House Of Wonder

“Imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.”  – Albert 

There is nothing more beautiful in life than to create something which has not yet been created.

Our imagination is the portal to dream of a better tomorrow and allow things which have not yet existed to make it’s way into reality. Without imagination we have no progress, no creativity and no diversity. In a sense it is what makes us truly human. 

When we dreamt about a place for children that inspires wonder and imagination, we knew we had to allow our own imagination to run wild. We wanted to do something that was new, fresh and moved early childhood education forward in a direction that is better for children. We pushed our team to dream outside of what already existed to push the boundaries of what is possible. 

In a world where dollars and cents seem  to be so intertwined with every conversation  around quality early childhood education, many centres are being developed for cost effectiveness rather than heart-felt philosophy. Our two main philosophical threads that drove the design for our new centre was relationships, creativity and sustainability. We wanted to create a space that was flexible, connected and inspiring. We could see a place where children and staff were able to work one on one, or within small groups or easily have large group celebrations. We could also see a place where the environment played a big part in sparking imagination and creativity. 

The result of many hours of conversation, research and brainstorming is a place our community is extremely proud off. With many fresh new ideas the centre has the feeling of a beautiful home that has been designed as a portal for creativity. Our entrance is modelled after a zen garden, allowing for peaceful transition from the business of the morning routine to settling into the centre. 

Through completely removed hallways, and instead connected our rooms with glass and movable furniture, every person is able to visually connect with the entire learning community from any space in the building. It has helped us remove the barriers between classrooms and aided the feeling of ‘oneness’ among the centre. 

We have pioneered ‘movable’ interactive furniture which allows spaces to be separated, made smaller or opened up depending on the needs of the classroom. Our kindergarten comes fitted with a dedicated art studio where our specialist art teacher introduces children to a wide range of materials stimulating imagination and free thinking. Our infant and toddler room comes with a dedicated sensory and water studio. This is a ‘yes’ space where our youngest children are able to freely explore the joys of a variety of sensory experiences.

Working with architect Phil Smith from Collingridge and Smith, we always wanted 
to integrate sustainable design. Right from the way the centre gets its power (solar) to the materials that are used for construction. Sustainability however is more than just this, it is a way of being within the every day life of the centre. Our team are continually reviewing their practises around food, waste and water to ensure our practise align with our philosophy.         

Ultimately we want to foster a sense of wellbeing for children. There is a quote from Kimberley Crisp that says ‘Surrounded by beauty the soul grows.’ It has been our privilege to watch the imagination, creativity and inner strength of our children grow as they have connected to this special place we call House of Wonder - Chartwell. 
Rick Fourie