CEBRA's departure from traditional forms aims to educate children early on the possibilities of architecture
The design kindergarten is a daycare center for children between one and six years of age. It is some 1,200 sq m and is situated just outside of Kolding in a small suburb called Vonsild. The building is the first in a planned series of theme kindergartens focusing on specific activities – in this case art, design and architecture. In a Danish context this is somewhat unusual because this will turn the kindergarten into an educational preschool facility.
The children will not receive actual lessons since most of the knowledge should be acquired through play, but even so the idea of combining learning and playing is new. Looking at and using the building should thus be educational and this is why the architects 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.
The different spaces are divided into five blob shaped elements. Two of them - facing the road - contain facilities for the staff such as kitchen, storage and administration, thus becoming a kind of sheltering wall for the other three elements which are the actual group spaces for the children. These are placed on the garden side and spread out to allow views from the central space between the blobs and out 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. On the outside each shape serves a certain function as well. Some of them are for playing and others are for building sand sculptures but all of the different zones have an educational purpose – teaching the children about colour, shapes and simple geometry through play.
The building is horizontally divided 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. This surface will constantly change and it should be quite neutral as the walls of an exhibition hall. The pointy skylights though are colorful and expressive and their interior surfaces are decorated by the graffiti artist Huskmitnavn. In this way the colourful skylights will serve as an inspiration – something to look up to and reminder for both children and adults that art can be fun and serious at the same time.