BY Zoe Phoon
Kindergarten is a word of German origin and literally means “garden for the children”. It’s a preschool approach traditionally based on playing, singing and activities such as drawing and social interaction.
Whether kindergartens or kindies operate from converted premises such as homes or shoplots in housing estates or from purpose-built facilities, their educational approach is still part of a child’s transition from home to school.
Kindergartens are also places that stimulate children’s senses and encourage them to explore the things around them.
Here are inspiring kindergartens, worth taking a leaf from, found on architecture website ArchDaily:
Farming Kindergarten, Bien Hoa, Vietnam.
The country is facing changes as it transforms from an agriculture-based economy to manufacturing.
Increased droughts, floods and salination are jeopardising food supply while the numerous motorbikes and vehicles cause daily traffic congestion and air pollution.
Rapid urbanisation is depriving Vietnamese children of green spaces especially playgrounds, and thus their relationship with nature.
Farming Kindergarten is a challenge to counter these issues. Located next to a huge shoe factory and designed for 500 children of the factory workers, the building is conceived as a continuous green roof, providing food and agricultural experience to children as well as serves as an extensive playground.
The green roof encircles three courtyards inside as safe playgrounds. There is a vegetable garden where children learn the importance of agriculture and reconnect with nature.
The operable windows maximise cross ventilation and natural lighting. Architectural and mechanical energy saving methods are used. These include the building’s green roof as insulation, green façade as shading, and solar water heating.
The devices are designed visibly so that children can learn about sustainability.
Factory wastewater is recycled to irrigate greenery and flush toilets. As a result, the kindergarten is operated without air-conditioners in the classrooms despite being located in a harsh tropical climate.
Saving energy and fresh water greatly reduces the kindergarten’s running costs.
The building is designed for low-income factory workers’ children. Therefore, the construction budget is limited. Use of local materials and low-tech construction methods has also minimised the environmental impact while promoting local industries.
Kindergarten of No. 12 Middle School, Beijing, China.
This is a rehabilitation project in the Chinese capital surrounded by residential blocks.
The No. 12 Middle School is one of Beijing’s best and the neighbourhood requires the school to incorporate kindergarten education in its curriculum.
The project’s architecture design firm Atelier Alter said the design strives to create a pure and simple paradise with memorable spaces for children.
The kindergarten has clean lines and shapes in primary colours. By looking through the lens of a child, the purity of childhood is well preserved in the architecture.
The result is a unique character for the school while enlivening the neighbourhood.
The project begins with converting the scale from a grown-up to a child. It uses building blocks as inspiration.
By incorporating the openings of the original building, it creates large colour blocks that pop up from the façade as gigantic building blocks for the neighbourhood.
The simple colour blocks stand out from the vernacular housing construction and create a dialogue with the children of the neighbourhood.
The use of primary colours starts with understanding of perception in a child. As the child’s vision starts to mature gradually after six years of age, a child’s understanding of colour is not as complete as grown-ups.
So a variety of colours is used in the elevation as well as the interior and exterior environment to stimulate children’s senses and encourage them to explore the spaces and shapes.
Blue is used for the nursery, green for spaces for toddlers and orange for pre-schoolers. The different emphasis is on keeping them calm or motivated.
The brilliant colours also brighten up the city prone to smog.
The two sides of the pop-up volumes are lighting panels. The lighting design makes the pure colour blocks look richer at night, turning the architecture into a gigantic art of light and colours.
Maebong Daycare Center, Seoul, South Korea.
This is the first prize awarded to Daniel Valle Architects in a public competition to design a kindergarten and senior welfare centre in the South Korean capital.
Located in Oksu-dong neighbourhood, the centre is crafted around the idea of shifting the scale of the building so that children feel more comfortable.
For example, the massing of the space is broken down into five units that use various colours, geometries and materials to emphasise smaller units within the whole.
All spaces in the daycare face the central playground which features a double-height ceiling and natural lighting. The central playground also serves as a lobby, circulation space and learning area.
To optimise lighting, most of the classrooms and teachers’ rooms are oriented towards south and east.
Three playgrounds will occupy part of the space at the entrance level – one indoor, one semi-exterior space surrounded by fencing, and one exterior garden.
Frederiksvej Kindergarten, Frederiksberg, Denmark.
It aims to create a small village setting for children that breaks away from the traditional large scale institutionalised daycare environment.
The small scale village atmosphere is achieved by dividing building into 11 small houses joined together with different orientations.
There are individualised spaces where kids can establish their own play niches within the building.
The place aims to provide the best possible settings for kids to grow up in and promote their learning and creativity.
According to the architect, there is a tendency today towards building bigger and bigger kindergartens. It is important to create intimacy and spaces for the kids’ small worlds in the kindergarten where they spend a large part of their day.
It has a variety of rooms supporting diverse types of activities for the kids in all seasons.
The design of the building is a simple expression of how a child might draw a house. The roofline is kept uncluttered and the windows are designed to look frameless as a child would, maybe, draw them.
Surrounding the main kindergarten are small houses are used to store strollers, toys and tools.
In the main kindergarten, small house-shape structures are used to enclose spaces like kitchenette, cradles, playrooms and baby changing facilities. All in keeping with the concept of a small village environment.