May 19, 2015

Large "studio" spaces and many connections to the outdoors are features of this new Japanese Kindergarten

Youji No Shiro (designers of the DS Nursery) know how an early childhood centre should be and their latest Hanazono Kindergarten is no exception.

The kindergarten's design mediates the necessity for large, open and flexible space (for the centres' varying and changing needs) with attention to functionality, materiality and detail. A feat Japanese architects appear to be very good at.

Above, a grouped indoor and outdoor dining space.

Semi-enclosed decks, courtyards and terraces are employed along with large bi-folding doors to ensure maximum connection at all times with the natural outdoors for healthy learning.

Above, upstairs rooms offer playful bright bold colouring on its walls and varying sized openings between spaces - with even one on the floor!

The structure is constructed of steel and concrete, while other materials include both stained and natural timber, stacked hollow concrete blockwork, chalkboard walls and red brick. Materials which speak of timelessness.

Outside, a grassy mound and timber play structures encourage adventurous physical play.

The centres' design language of a system of grid-like squares lends itself to a variety of expressions. Seen above, the hollow concrete block creating a lovely pattern of light.

May 14, 2015

This new centre clusters individual buildings around a common "piazza"

The Familienzentrum im Steinpark Kindergarten in Germany and designed by nbundm utilises simple forms that when clustered seemingly randomly create a number of various spaces and the notion of a village.

This arrangement meant each building could cater to one of the 8 groups, whilst all spilling out onto a central courtyard (or "piazza") space for shared learning and play.

A shared hall, dining and staff areas are also included.

The centre cleverly uses a minimal palette of materials meant to last. Prepatinated larch for the exterior cladding, and varnished spruce for the inside spaces.

A carefully selected colour palette is chosen, which combined with low hanging lights and and an abundance of large windows creates a homely feel.

Continuing with the timber theme, tree stumps are used both internally and externally. Adding both a natural and fun element to the otherwise minimalist design.

Playful and functional elements have been incorporated, with ample built-in storage as well as custom-designed furniture and cushions.

The green floors combined with the natural and textural timber qualities creating the feeling of being among the trees.

Via ArchDaily.

Apr 30, 2015

A stepped centre in Japan with tree-like columns

Hakusui Nursery in Chiba, Japan designed by Yamazaki Kentaro Design Workshop makes use of it's gently sloping site by creating large terraces or steps providing both physical fun and different zones for different activity.

Interspersed with these "steps" are custom-designed platforms (stages), cubbies, railings and enclosed "pods" for more quiet or private activity.

All sides of the steeped centre are characterised with floor to ceiling glass and large sliding windows and doors enabling fresh air, sun and access to the outdoors for play.

Natural ply is used for the floors and "steps" while pine is used for the many and varied structural columns - creating an effect like being in a forest. Appropriate for it's location next to a large wooded mountainous park nearby.

Colour is used sparingly giving identity to the various enclosed "pods" or rooms.

A unique feature of the nursery is the way the sloping roof collects rainwater and lets it gush over the edge of the roof as a waterfall - providing a fun water play area for the children.

On the top most side a large deck is also provided further encouraging the use of the outdoors for healthy play.

Via ArchDaily.

Apr 17, 2015

A new centre in Belgium is elevated off the street with 6 "living areas" housed around a central sunny atrium

Designed by ZAmpone Architectuur, the Pluchke (or "fluffy" in English) Daycare Centre is thoughtfully designed in considering the views of the building's young users.

Situated in Belgium's Brussels, the now 75 child-capacity centre was to replace an older and tired centre catering to 35 children.

The small site situated in front of a primary school was fully utilised by placing the daycare on the level above ground. Thus maintaining the street level for the public and the centres' administration spaces.

Six "living rooms" (group rooms or classrooms) each with their own outdoor terrace surround a central sunlit atrium and circulation space.

Thus connecting all of the spaces visually and physically.

The stairs also exhibiting a slide and playground - making the journey from up to down fun!

The architects cleverly considered the scale of the child in all instances. Offering a multitude of spatial experiences as well as furniture and hooks that can easily be used by the child.

Furniture and cabinetry is all custom designed - maximising the available space.

A minimal yet considered material and colour palette is chosen to convey a sense of calm and warmth...

Light timber, concrete, steel and muted paint colours are combined to create coherency and visual interest.

Nooks are provided for children to hide away in for rest or play.

While hanging light fittings give a homely feel.

Above, a view to one of the outdoor terraces is provided with a window nook.

A longitudinal section through the building shows the use of light wells offering an abundance of natural sunlight into the internal spaces.

Ground floor plan (above) - 1. Entrance, 2. Coaches, 3. Reception, 4. Director, 5. Staff Room, 6. Dressing Area, 7. Storage, 8. Kitchen, 9. Ironing Area, 10. Toilets,  14. Elevator,

Level 1 (above - 11. Living Area, 12. Washing Area, 13. Sleeping Area, 15. Terrace

Via Dezeen.

Apr 14, 2015

Bloglovin - a different way to follow and read your favourite blogs

Never heard of Bloglovin? I love it, as now I can read snippets of information from my favourite blogs that I like to follow and choose what I would like to delve into further. Try it out!

You can also now follow the AEC on Bloglovin (by clicking here)

Feb 19, 2015

The new Paper Nursery is a beacon among the bleak

A dense urban site surrounded by social housing blocks in France now looks out onto the landscaped and folding roof of the new 'Paper Nursery'.

Designed by Wild Rabbits Architects (WRA), the design takes its inspiration from origami - the playful and patient art of folding paper.

A difficult site, the new building was to be constructed over an existing car park. Whilst being set back from the street required an entrance through the ground floor of the existing adjacent building.

The only indication of the new nursery behind - an undulating bronze canopy, inviting the visitor to follow it within.

Steps lead up to a sunny yellow play area, from which all the classrooms break out onto.

The undulating canopy twists and folds - forming floors, wall and roof garden. Golden latticed semi-transparent screens shade the interior both from sun and the eyes of the surrounding buildings.

Section showing the entrance through the adjacent housing block (left) and the underground car park (right).

The new centre sandwiched in on all sides by bland tower blocks stands like a jewel among the bleak.

High quality materials and finishes says this building is proud. It respects the inhabitants inside.

Colours are selected for their calming qualities and to give the spaces identity.

Natural tones and the use of plenty of windows both at ground and clerestory level give the inside spaces a feeling of warmth and a sense of wellbeing.

Thanks to WRA for sending this in to the AEC.

Nov 10, 2014

Another fantastic new nursery in Japan is the D.S Nusery by Youji no Shiro

A simple material palette and a layout that focuses on a shared kitchen / dining and green outdoor play space makes for an excellent example of what an EC centre should be.

An arched blackboard wall separates the shared or "public" realm and the group or "childcare" space, with cubbies for bags and shoes cleverly delineating a locker / entrance space.

Internally, a simple material palette of white walls, timber floors, structure and joinery with hanging lights makes for a homely environment (that also takes children seriously).

A communal kitchen and indoor & outdoor dining space creates a lively "hub" and occasion around meal times.

Windows are placed at alternating heights inviting childrens' interaction.

The internal exposed beams carry on to the external overhanging eaves. While the "boxy" frames create visual interest to the otherwise "plain" corrugated metal facade.

All of the children's spaces face onto the internal outdoors providing much natural light, ventilation and access to play outdoors.

The shared internal garden play space features predominantly natural elements - trees, plants, an abundance of grass, rocks and tree stumps...

While man-made features include criss-crossing ramps promoting physical play (running, walking, cycling) and picnic benches encourage social interaction.

Deep window sills allow them to be inhabited (sat on, climbed on, jumped off)...

Here you can see the internal layout hierarchy - with children's rooms all facing the outdoors and the large shared playroom and kitchen / dining spaces - creating the sense of community and security.