Sharif Abraham Architects

Northcote Childcare & Apartments
Build commencing 2024

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The Development seeks to facilitate a mixed use building within the heart of Northcote Activity Centre. The design proposal is for a distinctive landmark building, consisting of an office/ retail component at ground level, three levels of residential and a two level childcare centre and associated play areas above. Overall the development includes the following:

  1. A cafe at the corner of Arthurton Rd. and Herbert St
  2. 5 offices
  3. 21 two and three bedroom apartments
  4. Childcare centre to accommodate 152 children
  5. Basement and ground floor car-parking
  6. Associated Bicycle area

The design of the building has evolved from a number of key considerations. The starting point, in addition to having regard for the site opportunities and design constraints was the client brief. The client constructed the child care centre on this site over 20 years ago. At the time of construction, the client ensured that this child care centre was state of the art. It has operated very successfully and been a significant service to the community since it commenced operation. The world of child care is evolving. The client seeks to embrace this and create a contemporary child care facility, ‘a playground in the sky’. The redevelopment of the site is driven by the clients desire to provide a unique state of the art child care centre that provides facilities for children at the highest level. The new child care centre also seeks to increase childcare places which acknowledges the increasing population and ongoing demand for child care services in the local area.


Whilst the design uses stairs to deal with the long narrow nature of the site for the apartment building, a different solution was needed for the child care use. Usually child care centres would seek flat plains, but given the length of the subject site, it is considered by sloping the levels very gently for the length of the site, that people would be better able to move throughout the length of the child care centre in a more seamless way.
Access to Childcare Centre is at the South end of Herbert Street. A designated lift at street level connects to reception area on the 5th floor. There is also direct access from the lift to the basement carpark.

Sloping and overlapping spaces allows for direct connections between the interior of rooms and exterior play areas and a series of more interesting interconnecting play areas. It uses the concept of a ball rolling down a hill and achieves movement throughout the site without making it feel like an effort or a deliberate action, such as using stairs. It also reflects a more unstructured nature. When within the child care centre you would not realise what level you are on. It provides for more imagination and allows for integrated play equipment such as the long slide which is more akin to something you would find in a theme park than a traditional playground slide. The slide, interconnecting levels and play areas of the site work to promote imagination and instil a sense of fun and adventure.


The two storey apartments came about from a desire to have one central communal entry gallery to the apartments. The benefits of this were that the apartments could be dual aspect, it would provide much more of a sense of community and would result in more efficient use of space. The stairs within the apartments were implemented as a design measure/ response to deal with the long narrow nature of the site. The creation of two storey apartments with a single access gallery also achieved another key objective of the design which was to capitalise on the light and space around the building, afforded by its island like nature. The two storey design enabled:


The design had to find the optimal way to provide access for apartments which are spread over 80 metres without having lengthy, underutilised corridors
on each level. The width of the site did not allow apartments either side of a central access hall and if this was provided, the apartments would be narrow and not have the benefit of being dual aspect. Provision of an access way to apartments on each level would also occupy a lot of floor area, resulting in inefficient use of space.
The gallery on level two, providing entry to all apartments has taken inspiration from the railway line and in particular from a series of interconnecting open train carriages where you can see the ongoing length of the train. It also reflects long and interesting spaces which connect you with your location, again reinforcing the train journey to/from a given destination. It could be described as an elevated series of interconnecting train carriages. It is open, although somewhat protected from the elements and is industrial in nature like a train tunnel. The communal gallery also provides access to the communal open space.

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