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The 'Farming Kindergarten'

Reminiscent of Tezuka Architects' highly praised Fuji Kindergarten (see post here) is this 'Farming Kindergarten' designed by Vo Trong Architects with its soaring habitable roof.

Receiving the Architectural Review "Highly Commended" Award, the kindergarten design is a reaction to Vietnam's rapid urbanization (and subsequent removal from nature) that the population is facing. 

Built next to a shoe factory for the 500 children of the factory employees, it has a continuous green roof that provides expansive space for physical play as well as edible gardens. Teaching children about the work that goes into growing and cultivating ones own food.

The three loops that the building forms in plan also has the advantage of creating three internal (and protected) play spaces. All of which include trees with concrete formed curving bench seats surrounding them so that the children can sit under their shade.

The construction is kept simple - with concrete floors, walls and roof and a simple vertical steel balustrade. A budget approach, that yet works. Allowing the natural elements and strong curving form to shine.

Along with the ethos of connecting with nature, the architects have included a plenitude of openable windows allowing cross ventilation and lighting. As a result, it can operate without air conditioning, despite the intense tropical climate.

Other strategies of environmental control include using recycled factory wastewater to irrigate the green roof and lavatories and solar power to heat water.

Vertical timber slats on the building's outer facades provides semi-transparent screening whilst also acting as a trellis for creeping plants. Further allowing the building to become one with it's natural surroundings.

Via AR.

Smørblomsten Kindergarten reflects the "village" concept of many gabled forms

Here is an exemplary example of a rigorous design approach for designing a centre. Unfortunately a lot of the initial ideas seem lost in the final (yet finely articulated architectural) product (as is often the case).

It is a common issue in attempting a way to break down the scale of space to give at once the feeling of homeliness and meet the functional scale of the child. And this was the first thought given by architects COBE who designed this rather large (200 child-capacity) new centre situated in the town of  Frederiksberg in Denmark.

How to make a large kindergarten seem small?

The next thought was given over to how to meet the various contextual scales of the surrounding context, to ensure the facility fit within the surrounding buildings and green areas.

Diagram incorporating the urban, villa and greenery scales of the surrounding context.

Physical model

Rendered view from the playground

The overall flow of the 'village' is around the two 'village' winter gardens

Rendered view of a 'winter garden'

Providing access to outdoor play

Two houses shift position to create spatial pockets therefore maxmizing the playground

There are four roof gardens - one of them is a double decker!

All kids have access to outdoor spaces from their own floor 

Facades are clad in wood with small variations
(Further breaking up the scales)

Rendered view from the street

Colour in the interior gives identity to each little house

Rendered view of inside a play room

Spaces within spaces: 
11 small houses with even smaller houses inside these houses!

Letting nature in

Floor Plans and Section
Click on the images below to enlarge.

Ground Floor Plan                                   First Floor Plan

Second Floor Plan                                    Section

And the finished result...

The minimalist black and white forms are rather a far cry from the concept rendering showing warm natural timbers of varying texture and transparency giving a depiction of layering and allowing nature in. The final result below however seems stark and foreboding in comparison (perhaps not helped by the looming overhead clouds....)

The reflective and seemingly random placed frameless windows set in the village-like "houses" are however impressive. As project architect Eik Bjerregaard explains; The windows were carefully detailed to look frameless ‘like a child might forget to draw the frames’, and the roofline is uncluttered thanks to hidden drainage details, precise material connections, and insetting solar panels flat to the roof surface.

A wood-wrapped indoor-outdoor structure used for sports and play

A skylit central atrium with "classrooms" or "group rooms" all facing in through house-shaped window nooks.

It seems a shame that the initial concepts of warm timbers, natural elements and defining colours were abandoned in the final product which seems to me to be too stark, minimal and cold for "loose" - active and creative children's play. However, the architects must be commended for their design methodology which exhibits a thorough thought process to designing for children.

Via FrameWeb and COBE.


site by Ana Degenaar