NEW KINDERGARTEN ARCHITECTURE IN SLOVENIA BY JURE KOTNIK
Jure Kotnik is an architect, editor and architecture consultant who lives and works between Ljubljana and Paris. He is the author of “New Kindergarten Architecture ” book which showcases the best examples of latest kindergarten architecture with guidelines for contemporary kindergarten design ( Links, Barcelona 2011).
Beside the work in field of theory and research, Kotnik is the author of some amazing kindergartens and works as a consultant for the World Bank and Council of Europe development Bank (CEB) at optimizing pre-school facility designs and legislation. In autumn 2012 he was appointed visiting professor at Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris and in 2014 he got PhD degree at the University of Ljubljana with the research thesis of Hybrid architecture methodology applied to kindergarten design.
It has been a pleasure for World Kids to be in touch with Jure Kotnik in order to prepare this post, and it is also a great honor to present today 3 of his amazing kindergarten: Ajda 2, Jelka and Kekek. These Kindergarten are not only beautiful buildings, but have been created so that kids can use this spaces and develop their creativity and imagination. It is truly amazing to see how in these great Kindergartens architecture and education are joined.
Kindergarten Ajda is the extension of a kindergarten in Ravne na Koroškem, a Slovene town. Ajda has replaced a former temporary kindergarten extension, which was set up from three containers and had one playroom, offering at the time immediate relief for lack of kindergarten space.
Since containers proved a good solution, the local authorities commissioned the new, permanent kindergarten extension to be built out of containers. The new containers were added to the three existing ones and all of them carefully incorporated into a unique whole. Ajda’s containers are arranged into clusters and joined by a single roof, with spaces in between used for various purposes, such as dressing room, covered terraces and multi-purpose entrance. Since the frame structure of the kindergarten is from containers, the result is a spacious kindergarten constructed within a budget lower than that of an average Slovene kindergarten.
Ajda consists of a total of 16 containers, which host three classrooms, two covered terraces and two washrooms for children, all of them fluidly connected with the dressing room and multi-purpose entrance hall. The interior is not only spacious but well illuminated, since the playrooms’ longer walls are fully glazed to enable children good visual communication with the green surroundings. The multi-purpose entrance hall is spacious and accessible from both sides of the kindergarten. It hosts a children’s art gallery, play area and reading nook, and is equipped with a mobile theatre screen. One corner of the kindergarten was made into roofed open-air terraces in teak wood, allowing for the children to play outside well protected from weather inconveniences all year round.
The signature design feature of kindergarten Ajda is its didactic façade, made from thick anthracite isolative and fire-resistant boards, which comply with high energy-efficiency standards, and covered in colourful magnets of five colours. The lightweight magnets are foldable so that children can manipulate them with ease, combining colourful design blocks to create animals, vehicles, buildings and other imaginative shapes. The interactive façade helps improve children’s motor skills, eye-hand coordination and problem-solving techniques, as well as stimulates creativity and encourages the matching of colours, shapes and sizes. This design novelty of the world’s first magnetic façade combines interest, benefit and creativity in one: it can function as a convenient teaching tool for teachers, a support in the learning process for children, and by constantly changing the kindergarten’s appearance it keeps triggering children’s imagination day after day.
Kindergarten Jelka is an extension of a kindergarten in a housing neighbourhood from the sixties in a Slovenia’s capital city Ljubljana. When a new housing complex was built in the vicinity, this kindergarten extension became a necessity. Local authorities have commissioned a local prefab company to build the new annex entirely from wood, also to showcase the adequacy of wooden constructions for the kindergarten use. Building with local wood is not only nature friendly way to create healthy and cosy environment, but it is also a first step to invite the children into the world of sustainable values.
The new kindergarten annex is attached to the east side of the existing building and stretches into the garden. The extension consists of two playrooms for 28 children, two cloakrooms, central washroom, staff cloakrooms, entrance hallway, playground toilet for external use and covered terrace. Both playrooms are south orientated, while they also both receive additional light from the large side openings and are therefore well illuminated and offer to the little-ones environment that supplements the warmth of their own home.
Located between the two playrooms, washrooms have large glass openings, which visually increase their volume as well as ease tutor supervision. Playrooms share a covered terrace that enable children’s activity when the weather is bad, while also protects them from the hot sun in the summer. Kindergarten façade consists of thin vertical lamellas in natural wood, while the wood on the covered terrace is painted in dark grey colour.
The new and the old building are connected with a narrow hallway made from wooden pillars of various green and yellow colours and it is covered with translucent polycarbonate boards that soften the passage between buildings.
Kindergarten Kekec is an extension of a typical Slovene prefab kindergarten from the 1980s. The construction is made from prefabricated wood and was built in three days only.
The main design concept derives from the existing kindergarten’s lack of play equipment. The new façade solves this weakness by offering a play element along all three exterior walls. It consists of dark brown roughcast and timber slats revolving around their vertical axe. The slats are the colour of natural wood on one side but painted into nine different bright colours on the other side. Aside from serving as a shading element, the toy slats provide for children’s play and learning: as the children manipulate the colourful wooden planks they get to know different colours, experience wood as a natural material and constantly change the appearance of their kindergarten, all at the same time.
The new kindergarten annex is attached to the south side of the existing building and stretches into the garden. Playrooms are compact but allow for the furniture to be arranged in various formations. Daylight floods the interior from three sides as well as the roof. Located between the two playrooms, washrooms have large glass openings, which visually increase their volume as well as ease tutor supervision. Wardrobes in the narrow changing room are made from pure natural wood and have pull-out boxes for shoes in all the colours of the façade, which function as a space saver, since they also serve as a bench.
You can see more of Jure Kotnik’s work at his web-site. We look forward to feature more of his future works at World Kids.