With two children in part-time childcare and first hand knowledge of the facilities required to provide for early learners, Minx embarked on a series of early learning centre projects. This era also provided many valuable lessons for us as architects and as directors of architectural practice still in the infant stages of development. Albert Park Pre-school, Clarke Street Children's’ Centre, Malvern Early Learning Centre, North St Kilda Childcare Centre and a number of projects for Peppercorn Childcare Centres, ironically gave us plenty to do when we weren’t looking after own own children.
Working in the education sector throughout our children’s schooling has enabled insight to the role that teaching facilities play in the community. Often the school is the focal point for the community and being a part of that community gives a designer a different perspective.
Involvement as volunteer in the classroom can gives an architect better understanding as to how teaching and learning spaces work. Too often designers have limited exposure to the workings of the spaces that they imagine.
Our children too have provided us with a terrific understanding of the needs of the learner - particularly during a time of rapid change with the infiltration of digital technology in the classroom. Even today, with our children now at the other end of the school system, their approach to learning, motivations and frustrations give us a better understanding as to how to provide better education spaces.
When we realise that Siri can do year 11 chemistry homework, we start to wonder what teaching will look like in the future and what sort of spaces we should be designing to allow for this rapid change.
So from early learners to lazy teens, our children have provided us with insight, understanding and perspective (and for the most part they have also given us a lot of joy) which has enabled us to continue to refine our skills as education space designers.
By the end of 2004 we had employed 4 staff to support the many projects we had in progress and generally our practice was running really well which we attribute to our insistence on ‘team work’ which, in our office means asking a colleague for help when you need it and helping a colleague in need when they ask for it. This is still the essence of the culture at Minx today and camaraderie has never been stronger.