don’t look at me, don’t look at me
This project is located within a typical commercial environment, a built fabric randomly expressing the often contradictory commercial forces of individuality, lowest price, and minimal maintenance. In this overexcited yet underwhelming environment, BAU suggested that a highly integrated minimal expression that explored a sophisticated articulation of a singular element would in fact become the landmark in a sea of “look at me, look at me” architecture.
simple geometry, complex spaces
Primary geometry was selected to create strong, clear and identifiable elements for the children to perceive, engage with, and understand. The 750 children are located in two curved classrooms buildings, each of which are three floors in height. The third curved building, which is focused in the opposite direction on the site, houses staff and shared facilities such as the large auditorium. Each of these curved buildings form a highly positive and focused concave courtyard space. Beyond their inferred boundaries the two classroom courts are linked to allow the generally focused outdoor space to become one larger continuous space.
On the convex side of these curved classroom buildings, a simple two-storey high communal space includes the main public entrance to the kindergarten and the entrances to each of the curved classroom buildings. This communal space also provides indoor space where children of different ages can play together. On the classroom side sit convex walls of eh classrooms, on the street side sits another series of convex curves that are the remains of positive outdoor spaces that have been cutout of its long public façade.
This large kindergarten is squeezed into a tight site, so maximizing the available space for outdoor activity and play is the priority for landscape design.
Following contemporary theories of childhood learning and development, which encourage interaction with natural materials, BAU created a number of themed elements and areas which include: waterworks, stream, willow tunnel, frog pond, vegetable garden, sand pit, wave bench play hill, several custom playgrounds, and a number of flexible open-program paved areas. Other functional areas of the landscape include the main entrance plaza and a green space with seating and tables for use by kindergarten staff.
Further outdoor space for the children is available on the 2nd floor roof, which is an activity area divided by learning levels and surfaced with rubber and artificial turf. Rooftop skylights are incorporated as sculptural mounds that can be climbed on and over.
This kindergarten is designed to inspire the children’s imagination, provide a comfortable and quiet work place for staff, and to become a modest “don’t look at me” landmark for the local community.