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Case Study

New build and refurbishment of existing buildings

Cholmondeley Children’s Centre

Client: Cholmondeley Board of Trustees
Project: New build and refurbishment of existing buildings
Architect: RMBH Architects Ltd
Value: $6 million
Type of procurement: Tendered
Completion: March 2015

More than 25,000 children have utilised the unique short-term respite care offered by Cholmondeley Children’s Centre since its establishment in 1925.

When the land under Cholmondeley’s stunning Governor’s Bay headland was buckled by the September 2010 earthquake and then destroyed by the February 2011 earthquake, the historic facility required a complete demolition and rebuild.

“The people who work at Cholmondeley are absolutely passionate about the work we do and the children we work for,” said Shane Murdoch, General Manager of Cholmondeley Children’s Centre. 

“For a project so pivotal to the next 90 years of the organisation, we wanted to partner with a construction specialist who not only had all of the required technical capability, but one who would share our passion. 

“Following a competitive bidding process, we were delighted to secure the services of Citycare for the $6 million project,” he said. 

Paul Blackler, then-Executive General Manager of Citycare’s Building Construction division (now EGM of Citycare Civil), enjoys a unique relationship with the Cholmondeley facility. As a child in 1968, Paul spent two weeks at Cholmondeley while his mother was recovering from surgery. He had also spent ten months at Cholmondeley as site manager during the 1992 construction of the new dormitory and seismic upgrading project.

“I had a personal appreciation of the work that Cholmondeley does within our community but there was also a wider appreciation from the entire Citycare team,” said Paul.

“They recognised that Cholmondeley equates to help and care for children and families at times of great need. That gave the project a real sense of purpose and it became a passion for everyone involved in the construction of this fabulous new facility.”

The rebuild provided Cholmondeley with an opportunity to build a practical, modern facility in which to care for children, and a design based on sound research.

That included focus groups with children using Cholmondeley, who said they wanted a single-level building that maximised the views out to the harbour and that offered an informal, non-institutional environment.

“Our rebuilt centre provides a safe environment that allows the children to relax and to receive a purposeful and rewarding experience,” said Shane Murdoch. 

The rebuilt facility incorporates: 
  • Integration of care and education – the entire building is designed as a continuous learning environment
  • Community and safety – open plan spaces with minimal use of right-angles where children can be lost or disappear
  • Privacy – alcoves to relax or read in, bedrooms than can be reconfigured
  • Emotional safety – warmth of design creating a building that is non-institutional
  • Children at the forefront – unique design features such as windows, seating, door handles, benches and vanities built at heights appropriate for children
  • Cost efficiency – insulation innovations and thoughtful use of materials that require minimal maintenance
  • Sustainability – use of local sustainable materials that complement the community in which Cholmondeley is located

“Citycare really wanted to win this project,” said Paul Blackler.

“It is a neat property and Cholmondeley provides a unique and important service to the children and families of the region. We were driven by a strong internal desire to deliver the project on time and on budget, to the very highest standards. 

“I’m pleased to say that we achieved those goals and there is a very high level of satisfaction with all of the Citycare team and our contractors,” he said.

Citycare handed over the new Cholmondeley Children’s Centre in July 2015, and an official opening ceremony recognising the magnitude of the task and its importance was hosted at the facility in October of that year.