Bira Bira ELC


Bira Bira Early Learning Centre provides exemplary learning, sensory play and care facilities for up to 135 children, situated in an industrial commercial pocket of Cheltenham.

With a strong education vision to create an enhanced learning experience, the brief from Bira Bira’s Victoria Voulgaris and Chris Garris was a layered and ambitious one. It required the design to accommodate emphasis on education during the early years, support children with special needs and provide an environment that better nurtured childhood development overall, as well as the role of parents and carers. 

Working closely with the owners, R ARCHITECTURE drove the design and documentation process, undertaking site investigations and feasibility studies over many years to identify an appropriate site, and deliver the desired pedagogical outcome.



Completed 2020


Cheltenham, VIC


Planning, Architecture & Interior Design


Tatjana Plitt





Better Future




Architecture – Public and Institutional


Demonstrating an inventive, adaptive reuse of an existing warehouse shell, our design presents an exemplary learning environment for both children and staff at Bira Bira Early Learning Centre. 

The U-shaped floor plan features diverse learning pods sharing a central 1000 square metre playground, which offers a range of engaging areas, including a large sandpit and custom climbing wall. This plan maximises connections between the internal and external, providing all learning areas and many of the support spaces with access to natural light, views and increased flexibility with the ability for activities to flow between indoors and out. 

The design outcome also demonstrates how early learning educators and carers can be better supported in the workplace, with the strategic inclusion of areas that foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing. Incorporation of these fit-for-purpose spaces enables engagement with external specialists and service providers as well as appropriate areas for withdrawal and respite during the work day.

Multiple sustainable and energy efficient initiatives are integrated into the structure of the building, including inbuilt rainwater harvesting and solar panels. Demonstrating a synergy between design and purpose, these ideas are reflected in the centre’s teachings, with children taught to recycle and repurpose materials in their creative play. In this way, sustainable practice is not only reflected in the design approach, but is inherently woven into the educational fabric of design use, contributing to an environmentally conscious future generation.

Bira Bira ELC won silver at the 2023 Australian Design Awards, 2022 GOV Design Awards and Better Future Melbourne Design Awards.

We take pride in delivering an empathetic design for an environment that is dignified, valued and encourages collegiality among carers and children and parents.

Read more about the award here.

Approachable and always available. Prompt replies, problem solving and providing workable alternatives. Extremely professional throughout the process.