The project was to transform the ground floor of a former nurses’ residence into a stimulating, 44-space licensed daycare for the children of hospital employees. Challenges were creating a safe, stimulating environment for children; reconciling extensive program requirements from the client with imposing restrictions from the Community Child Day Care Standards Act; and creating the perception of increased space in a small interior.

A sense of place is created through the thoughtful integration of activities for children, staff, and parents in a daycare setting. Service areas are grouped along a common wall, becoming transitional zones for multiple functions. For example, staff washrooms provide barrier-free access to all ages, and washrooms are located for easy wayfinding within a private and semiprivate configuration. Staff room glazing provides one-way viewing for observation, and kitchen placement enables separation of age groups as required by government authority.

The design focuses on the child's development, heightening the senses and creating a playful, joyful learning adventure. Custom-designed millwork, tables, and wall details are infused with a vivid palette of colors, textures, and lines, creating an exciting exploration experience. Irregular carpet patterns of bold shapes and colors combine to form a meandering path, and a green “snake-like” bulkhead enchants the youngster's eye, creating a contrasting visual dance of ground and sky.

Nooks, crannies, and curves heighten the “curiosity in every little cat,” where play is the essence of learning.

Project category: Remodel/Renovation (completed September 2002)

Chief administrator: Cam Marsland, VP Finance & Support Services, (204) 837-0145

Firm: Friesen Tokar Architects, (204) 885-9323

Design team: Brian W. Tokar, Principal-in-Charge; Annette Gargol, Project Architect (Friesen Tokar Architects); Joanne McFadden, Interior Designer (Trend Architectural Interiors)

Photography: Dennis Appler

Total building area (GSF): 3,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $132 (Canadian)

Total cost (excluding land): $394,000 (Canadian)