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Entry for Molewa International Competition

"Our Kindergarten is our Garden"

2015

4000 sq.m.

Architecture can influence and should contribute towards educating the future generation. If a child is given the opportunity early on in life to experience natural growth and plant life, that child will learn to love nature and have an awareness of it. Even in a city, there are ways to green the building and bring the outdoors inside.

We wanted in this entry to provide the children in this kindergarten with a feeling of home. A home with a backyard that is part of their house. Children should experience the joy of playing in the garden where they can see plants and flowers or even grow vegetables and prepare them later on with the help of a grownup. In this way we can help preserve traditions of past generations when everyone lived and ate more healthily. This is especially true of the fast growing cities of China.

A child is part of a large community but also belongs to a small family and kindergarten class. The use of colors and different shaped flowers help to distinguish the different classrooms in the building, thus contributing to the child's sense of place and identity. There are specific areas for large congregations, which can be used for celebrations and special events. The roof, ground floor playground and the indoor open areas are large enough for running and sports and incidental meetings between the age groups. The day to day areas are more intimate, scaled down and less intimidating.

The design principles:

  1. Our Kindergarten is our garden. We play in our garden and eat the products that are grown there, preserving a traditional and healthy lifestyle.
  2. Every child has access to an outdoor playground. Every class has a designated and enclosed yard allowing for easy supervision of the children.
  3. The building has a playful identity and can be immediately recognized. Building blocks, color and flowers are themes used throughout the kindergarten.
  4. Color coding and flower shapes are used for identity and distinction. Each class has its own identity and can be recognized from the outside as well as the inside.
  5. A variety of outdoor and indoor play and learn areas allow for flexible use throughout the building during all seasons.
  6. Individual entrances at every level break down the complex's size and create more intimacy for every age group.
  7. Maximization of views and daylighting for healthier building occupants. The building opens to the park and river.
  8. Functional rooftops utilize the space they provide and allow for sustainable attributes.
  9. Multifunctional areas open to the public after hours.
  10. The wall is also a play area. The space in between the outer and inner walls on the North facade of every classroom hide kid size play areas with stairs ladders and peek-a-boo windows.

The Architectural concept:

Plot number 01 is part of the edge of the circle that is the new neighborhood. The geometry inspired us to design a building that opens up to the park and river like it was part of a flower or a part of the sun. The concept of giving every classroom an adjacent yard, and utilizing the roof space gave birth to the building blocks theme. Every level is smaller than the one before creating outdoor spaces that are partially shaded and partially sunlit, open to the views of the surroundings and open to the building. The hallways also look on to the class yards and the large windows provide daylight and rhythm. Works of art created by the children can shown along the corridor's wide window sills. The entrance courtyard is a multifunctional space. Besides being a large and inviting open entrance area, It can be closed by gates during kindergarten work hours so that it becomes the main ground floor playground, and it can be opened to the public when the building is closed. The sunken indoor courtyard adjacent to the entrance is surrounded by stairs and serves also for large gatherings and shows. The building has a completely different look when it faces the city. The South facade is more similar to the hight of the surrounding buildings and helps define the street. The classroom units are identical on each floor and are rotated 8 degrees from the center of the arc they define. They can be prefabricated and put together on site. Three staircases reach every floor including the roof. Two are indoor and are designed to be fire and smoke secure, and the third is outdoors and serves as the main staircase leading to each level's entrance. The roof is fully utilized and open to the sky. Asides from the two enclosed stairwells, there is a greenhouse where flowers and vegetables can first be grown in order to be moved to the individual classroom gardens. The roof is landscaped and has small hills towards the edges where large shading trees can be planted. The planting medium along the southern facade where most of the trees are planted should be 70 cm deep and as wide as possible. From there the grade gently falls towards the middle. The landscape can house built in playground features like steps and slides and the paving can be made from recycled plastic mulch. A green roof system should be employed with draining and waterproofing layers. For deeper plant media a lightweight substitute can be used instead of soil. A drip watering system should be used for efficient watering and compost can be made on-site from food scraps.

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