Wednesday, July 13, 2011

South Norwood Hill Children’s Centre, by Erect Architecture

Erect Architecture’s joyful reinvention of a nursery building in South Norwood, London, has a lot to teach us about working with existing buildings and systems, says Oliver Wainwright

An army of angry mothers and toddlers descended on Downing Street on Mother’s Day this year in a fearsome frenzy of face paint and nursery rhymes. They came to deliver a 50,000-name petition against the closure of Sure Start children’s centres, after research by the Daycare Trust predicted that 250 of these facilities might be forced to shut in 2011 as a result of coalition cuts.

“The centres are a great leveller in our society,” organiser Louise King told the BBC. “Kids from all walks of life mix and learn together and parents can further their education and gain vital support. Take them away, or force them to make cutbacks, and we’ll see the next generation really suffer.”

Luckily, buildings run a little way behind politics. Just as this savagery was being announced, as if in a miraculous parallel universe, a new children’s centre opened on a wooded hillside in Croydon – perhaps the last we will see for some time. Nestled into a sloping site in the north of the borough, the South Norwood Hill Children’s Centre by Erect Architecture shows just how much these facilities are worth fighting for – and just how hard you have to fight to realise them in the first place...

Read the full article here

Originally published in BD, 13 July 2011