The design for the new kindergarten is based on and orientated around the beautiful trees that characterise the site for the project. The building has been carefully placed between the mature trees to simultaneously create a distinctive entrance situation and frame pleasant views from the inside into the courtyards with their different characters – sometimes opening up to the outside, sometimes conveying a comforting and sheltering atmosphere.
The volume of the building, its colours and the mirrors mounted in the facade, create an integrated and simultaneously distinctive presence within the surrounding trees which is structured by the changing character of its volumes – a timber frame construction and a solid part formed using load-bearing walls. This distinction of the volumes is further articulated using different colours and a playful variation of window sizes.
The façade of the timber frame is made from a larch cladding with carefully composed colour accentuations provided by the vertical louvers designed for solar shading. In contrast, rough textured render painted in different shades of green and orange is used for the solid volumes of the building.
On an area of 972m2 split over two floors, 100 children in 6 separate groups are using the day-care centre. The different spaces of the individual groups are colour differentiated depending on their respective location within the building. The colour-coded wardrobe areas in the corridors designed to correspond with their related group spaces are clearly identifiable as meeting points. The bathrooms together with additional storage spaces are directly linked to these individual clusters. This compact arrangement minimises circulation space and therefore allows the expansion of the actual teaching areas. Children are invited to playfully explore the spaces within the building – a reference to the objective in the curriculum of Saxony, that the architecture of kindergarten should stimulate creativity.
The building will be discovered if you make use of it or simply by wandering through its sequence of spaces. The windows are designed to match the scale of children offering views of the internal spaces through to the outside and therefore establishing a relation with the surrounding trees. They are installed at a low height so that their sills turn into benches for seating. Roof lights offer orientation by opening up views – in the single-story volume directly to the outside and in the other areas through to the upper floors and the sky beyond. Some of the skylights are designed to refract the rays of the sun, creating an interesting play of changing light inside the building. This idea has been developed further using pivoting reflective sun louvers that encourage the children to explore and experiment with different lighting effects. On the upper floors, the windows provide close views directly into the treetops. The colours are chosen and composed to generate an atmosphere of comfort and protection, but also of encouragement to exploration.
The design and development by Susanne Hofmann Architects BDA is based on a thorough and intense collaboration and exchange with user groups, teachers, the institution’s supporting body and especially the children in the kindergarten.
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