Danish architectural firm CEBRA has been designing several buildings for young users, and their new ‘Design Kindergarten’ attempts to break preconceived notions of “what a school should look like” as a way to pique children’s curiosity and creativity.
Still in progress, the daycare center’s organization is based around different “themes” that focus of specific activities -in this case art, design and architecture. This is somewhat new to the Danish model of daycare, as the building will turn into more of an educational preschool facility where knowledge is acquired, not though a formal lesson, but rather through play.
In addition to the architectural strategy of redefining a daycare center, the client/architect relation is something to be noted. The parents participated in the design process in a very active way, offering ideas and criticism to push the project forward.
Situated outside Kolding, in Vonsild, the 1.200 m2 building’s irregular form is a result of the architects’ philosophy on education: ”Using the building should be educational and this is why we have deliberately avoided typical building features. The children should learn from this very early stage that a house does not have to look like the typical child drawing with a pitch roof, a door in the middle and a window on each side of it. This building has a jagged roof, it has no corners since everything is rounded and the main volumes have very few right angles. The kindergarten will demonstrate quite effectively that a building can look anyway you want it to.”
There are five blob shaped elements, two containing staff facilities, and the other three are the actual group spaces for the children. The blobs for the children are placed on the garden side and scattered about the site to allow for views into the landscape. In the garden, the blobs are repeated as two dimensional echoes of the building shapes so the volumes seem to gradually fade into the open landscape. The blobs each serve a specific eudcational purpose and teach the children about color, shapes and geometry through play.
The building is divided horizontally into two sections – a base standing on the ground made up from the five blobs and their connecting roof, and the “roof landscape” itself. The base is all white and the curving walls could be seen as a paper roll, a surface for the kids to decorate with their drawings and sculptures. Colorful pointy skylights are decorated by the graffiti artist Huskmitnavn. The skylights will serve as an inspiration – and as an important reminder to children and adults that “art can be fun and serious at the very same time…”