Brighton Street Early Learning

  • Completed 2020
  • Location Melbourne, Australia,
  • Danielle Brustman was tasked to convert a Brutalist building into Brighton Street Early Learning in Melbourne, Australia.

     The brief and scope for this project was so exciting. I regularly use colour in my interior design work and but it is not often that I get the opporunity to be as bold with colour specification. This project was an ideal environment to treat each wall, bench surface and material with a range of colour blends of varying hue and material. There are hand painted murals in all rooms, the Marmoleum flooring is inlayed with graphic shapes that relate to themes in each room and the bathroom tiles are laid in gradated spectrums of colour. Children are so imaginative and less inhibited than we adults. It made complete sense to me that these spaces ought be filled with both stimulating and inspiring visuals. I wanted to push the colour palette to its limits, I wanted it be complex and colourful whilst still adhering to a level of sophistication, gentleness and balance. It was also important that the staff would enjoy the interiors as much as the children. Colours and materials that are often used in education can be a bit crude and institutional. I wanted to completely break away from that model and present child-friendly spaces that felt more personalized and fun to be in. In total we specified 47 interior paint colours.

    The focus on using natural and durable materials was an integral part of the specification and design process. Marmoleum, a natural blend product is used on the floors throughout the centre. The Marmoleum is made up of 70% natural fibre and 40% recycled materials. We designed several customized rugs for each of the play spaces that align with the various room schemes. The patterned Tretford rugs are made from 100% goat hair. We invited a local Melbourne based lighting designer Copper ID to create several feature coloured pendants for the reception area and stairwell from the Flask range made of toughened glass traditionally used for manufacturing Science beakers. Acoustics were an important consideration for the centre. Kids can make a lot of noise. Each playroom is fitted out with a floating acoustic ceiling as well as soft wool and vinyl furnishings.

    Some of the original interior concrete bones of the brutalist building have been left exposed. There is something lovely and unexpected about the intersection between these original raw building elements and the softer, more colourful material surfaces.

    I worked in close collaboration with the clients and building company IBUILD M on this project. The process was very hands on and fluid. The thing that made this project so rewarding and successful I think was the level of consultation, trust and communication between us.

    We wanted the centre to a have a hand-made, natural and unique feel about it. Each play room had been allocated a motif. These included river, lake, meadow, forest, star, sun and cloud. I used these motifs / themes to come up with a narrative, palette and treatment for each space. It was important that the rooms had their own character and feel. It was also important that the flow between the spaces was cohesive.

    The interior scheme included several graphic wall murals that were designed in relation to the themes and were made up of block shapes, squares, triangles and circles that created boats, star bursts, clouds, rainbows, waves and trees.

    The murals were all hand-painted by Ben Maitland ( a.k.a. Box Car Benny ). There is also a large-scale graphic mural in one of the outdoor play spaces that spells out the word ‘Sunshine’ and is coloured in with all of the smaller murals that run through the space. I hope the murals are a source of inspiration and creativity for the children.

    There are seasonal references throughout the spaces. The forest and river rooms have an autumnal feel to them while the cloud and sun rooms have a more summery palette and atmosphere. Ultimately I wanted these spaces to be nurturing and stimulating.

    Design: Danielle Brustman
    Architecture: Perkins Architects
    Murals: Ben Maitland
    Photography: Sean Fennessy