St. Columba Childcare Retrofit

Scarborough, Ontario



The St. Columba Child Care was developed in partnership with the City of Toronto to adapt a four-classroom wing of an existing 1950’s school into a three-room child care for infant, toddler, and preschool groups. The project included two exterior play areas with specific play zones for each age group; site improvements for parking and improved pedestrian circulation; upgrades to the school sports facilities including a soccer field and long jump pit; site modifications to provide an outdoor teaching area and barrier free access to all areas of the school yard; and modifications to the school to comply with barrier free requirements such as a universal washroom.

The design of the child care facility was based on the Reggio Emilia approach and was intended to foster curiosity, interaction, and exploration. Despite a limited footprint, the facility opens up the circulation space to be a more interactive collaboration zone including a reading nook, large display areas, and an open kitchen where kids can observe food preparation and participate at a distinct kid’s counter.

The child care rooms are interconnected through a variety of peek through windows allowing the children to observe and interact with others in the facility and promoting interaction between the various age groups. Similarly, the landscape design included numerous natural surfaces, zones, and levels to encourage safe and creative play.

The project was developed in consultation with the school, the school board, the City of Toronto, and the local parent council. These various stakeholders were all empowered to participate in the design process resulting in a dynamic facility of which parents, educations, and administrators were all proud.