The Insight Early Learning Centre in the Burwood Brickworks, Melbourne, Australia takes inspiration from indigenous concepts such as ‘Song Lines’, ‘Animal Totems’ and the ‘Dreamtime’, and connects sympathetically to the traditional owners of the land.
It is also the first of its kind in the way of the Living Building Challenge that stands upon and gives back through the Living Building principles of environmental and social sustainability. The centre functions as efficiently as a Flower, through the Living Building Challenge’s performance areas. The Living Building Challenge focuses sustainability around seven petals or criteria; Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty.
Creating and fostering the connection to the natural environment is incredibly important for the Living Building Challenge. The centre is directly connected to the neighbouring Urban Farm, allowing for enhanced learning to occur within the natural environment. As a result, there is a strong connection formed between children, staff and ‘Place’. The centre is arranged to foster “place-based relationships,” connecting and educating children about the history of the land and culture of Australia. Each classroom is an animal, based on the spiritual ‘Totems’ given to children in aboriginal tradition when they are born. These classrooms are linked by spaces that incorporate the four elements of fire, water, earth and wind.
To create a place of ‘Health and Happiness’, the centre adopts a biophilic approach to design. This can be seen in the flowing organic shapes that connect indoor and outdoor spaces. Materials throughout the centre are natural where possible or low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC). All classrooms have operable windows and large amounts of glazing, contributing to the overall indoor environmental quality.
Colour, light and geometry have been well considered and incorporated into a biophilic design to create not only a healthy environment but a beautiful one.