An educational playground

Friday 26 Feb 2010

Maryann Thompson Architects in collaboration with Ingrid Strong for Montessori children's house project

The programme for this Montessori children’s house (a school for 120 children aged 2-8), was given as a 'one room schoolhouse'. The two age groups of the school are housed in two classroom 'wings', both joined and separated by the entry area in which quiet activities are located to calm the child upon arrival.

Roof planes subtly tilt against one another to let in light from above, between their skewed forms, and they define the classroom spaces without the use of walls. The younger children occupy the east-facing wing as they are only in school in the morning; the older children occupy the west wing to take advantage of western light. The building has multiple relationships to the exterior play areas with doors out from every classroom.The shifting plan allows for multiple experiences of the building that reduce its apparent scale to remain in keeping with scale of the child. The building stimulates a child’s desire to wander, explore and interact with their environment. In order to fully understand it, the building must be occupied and it's spaces engaged.

The Children's School is designed to tread lightly on the earth and to heighten the students’ sense of relationship with the site. Trellises and louvers on the south and west elevation are used to control the summer sun and dapple and modulate light entering the building. The awning windows allow for passive cooling to occur and eliminate the need for mechanical cooling systems. The palette of natural and regional materials was selected primarily for its durability and sustainability. Interior finishes free of volatile compounds create a learning environment with the best possible air quality. This project will be one of the first LEED Certified schools in Connecticut.

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