“The approach to colour was to use a calm and sophisticated colour palette, and use this in a playful way...”
Little Wings Early Childhood Education Centre is a home – like a nest hidden in the heart of Ellerslie. The centre is nestled amongst three prominent mature trees on the property, which imbue the site with a nurturing and protective natural environment.
The teaching philosophy of the centre is a ‘Freedom within Structure’ learning environment, where children are encouraged to construct knowledge through play and exploration. These values are reflected in the centre's carefully designed layout: a central plywood pod contains the kitchen and bathroom, enabling the play areas around the perimeter of the pod to open to natural light and the outdoors. Children can move freely around the dynamic sequence of play areas, where they can discover a creative activity to engage with. Little ‘nooks and crannies’ such as the loft, the stage, and hobbit hole create intimate settings for imaginative and make believe play.
The approach to colour was to use a calm and sophisticated colour palette, and use this in a playful way. This enhances the home-like atmosphere of Little Wings and extends the children’s experience of colour to include subtle and complex hues. The calm background directs the children towards the activities rather than distracts from them, and the colours of the books, games and toys are accented in an enticing manner.
The design team has long been inspired by Anni Albers, for her calm yet rich textiles and artwork. Albers studied weaving at the Bauhaus in the 1920s. The curated Karen Walker Paints chart for Resene, based on the Bauhaus spirit, was a perfect fit to the concept of a modern and soothing palette.
Each of the three rooms in the central pod were allocated one of the Bauhaus-inspired paint colours, which glow softly during the day in complementary hues. The colour is used on both the ceiling and the walls. This idea was grounded in creating a crafted cabinet of curiosities or a toy box feeling for the children, so they may always feel like they are stepping into a world of play. The kitchen is finished in Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen in Resene Robin Egg Blue (grey blue), the children’s bathroom is Resene Quarter Powder Blue (weathered blue) and the loft is Resene Blanched Pink (dusty pink). All three colours work in harmony.
The walls outside of the plywood pod are painted Resene Half Sea Fog (black edged white), so that the warm tones of the plywood pod and the sophisticated colours within it are highlighted.
A stencilled mural with native bird artwork designed by Pippa Fay and painted in Resene Horizon (smoky sky blue) animates the external wall of the annex. The older children at the centre can recognise the different birds. The external brick walls are also painted Resene Half Sea Fog, using Resene Sonyx 101 semi-gloss waterborne paint.
This project won the Resene Total Colour Education Early Childhood Award. The judges said: "A lovely departure from the usual bold colours, the colour palette is playful and cosy, yet soothing and calming for busy minds. It's a grown up solution for children and very carefully thought through. The Resene paint colours are beautifully integrated and applied so they aren't competing for attention."