About the Boilerhouse

Our vision: The Boilerhouse Discovery Space will enable all young children and their families and carers to play, learn, connect and relax in a safe, welcoming environment.

Our mission

Our mission is to improve connectivity between the University of New England and the communities within which it is embedded in northern NSW; to provide novel, play-based experiences in STEAM that challenge students and communities to think differently about a broad range of [inter]disciplines; and to cultivate a love of learning through supporting and role modelling positive, growth mindset language, unfettered curiosity, confidence to experiment and sharing a love of discovery.


We are building a Discovery Space at the University of New England in Armidale.

Children learn through play, and by experiences with significant others during their young years. The Boilerhouse Discovery Space will create spaces for childhood growth and help instil a love of learning; where curiosity, confidence, creativity, collaboration and a can-do attitude is fostered from an early age; where global citizens are made.

The UNE Boilerhouse will be an innovative children’s Discovery Space, incorporating age-appropriate, research-led discovery experiences.  The experiences will ignite curiosity in children and will provide transformative opportunities for childhood growth and a love of learning in regional Australia. Research confirms that early gains in cognition and socio-emotional skills drive better education, health, social and economic outcomes.

The precinct will be an iconic, sustainable, ‘must-do’ destination that brings together whole communities to play!  People can be inspired through daily programs and play based activities as well as regular pop-up performances, conferences, workshops, celebrations and events.

What is a Discovery Space experience?

Discovery Spaces engage children from as young as 6 months old, and their families, in exploratory and unrestricted play through active experiences – direct interaction, tinkering, inventing, experimenting and doing.

The ‘experiences’ are what are traditionally called ‘exhibits’ in museums. But in our Discovery Space they will be a series of purpose built playscapes designed for children to use their senses – hearing, touch, sight, smell, taste, proprioception (body awareness) and vestibular (balance), explore six dominant movement patterns – swing, spring, landing, rotation, static, locomotion, and cultivate characteristics to help them reach their potential – curiosity, creativity, collaboration, confidence, critical thinking, a can-do attitude, and communication.

The experiences are joyful learning opportunities that stimulate children’s engagement with their world. They are often based around a concept like building a house or understanding our bodies. Think a favourite playground, a funky all-weather, all-day space dedicated to play-based learning.

The experiences in the Boilerhouse will provide safe, neutral spaces for every child and family, where vulnerable and high trauma families will be safe to learn to play and be together too. We will be partnering with not only individuals who value childhood education, but with organisations that support healthy childhood development.