Heathfield is designed as a walled garden with the building creating four distinct zones and two separate faces. The child friendly single storey block houses both a nursery and children’s centre.
Heathfield has a playful quality from the brightly coloured weatherboarding contrasting with the pale render and gabion walls. The reds and greens of the cladding merge with the trees and foliage around the site when viewed from the front.
Heathfield is organised into four blocks that run across the site. They form a shifting roofscape which is animated with rooflights. The entrance to the children’s centre is set back from the road behind a garden and play area. A garden wall runs along the perimeter, providing security and controlled entry points for the centre and the nursery.
The southern-most block houses the children’s centre. A large roof light illuminates the reception, and there is access to the main ‘adult’ spaces - two small meeting rooms and a larger multi-function room.
The main day-care centre is in the second block and has a separate entrance through a covered soft play area. This is large and child friendly with plenty of soft surfaces and windows looking out onto the playing fields and playground. An external courtyard connects this space with the staff areas behind the reception.
The nursery occupies the north-most block and a service block separates this from the children’s centre. Roof lights are scattered over the room and large windows overlook the playground. The open plan design makes it easy for teachers to keep track of all the children both inside and out. Heathfield Primary School connects to the nursery through the playground and the separate entrance allows it to operate independently of the children’s centre
Construction and sustainability
Heathfield is constructed from concrete block and clad in painted timber weather boards. Exposed timber beams on the covered play areas expose the roof structure. Large openings in the envelope provide daylight to the rooms.
Concrete was selected for its high thermal mass and it embodies the passive approach to sustainability. A heat recovery system takes advantage of solar gain and the temperature is regulated mechanically. Half the roof lights have solar heating panels and the others have provision for more panels to be added in the future.
Passive ventilation would not have met acoustic requirements as the centre is on a flight path.