Fun building on a serious campus

27 Feb 2010

New creche at UCD provides innovative and sustainable extension development

If a child arrives at the new Oakmount Creche at University College Dublin (UCD) they will meet a fun building which is both welcoming and exciting. The glazed entrance area immediately gives sight of the coloured playground beyond. The blue floor has an arrangement of yellow 'stepping stone' circles. The blue 'Magic Room Tower' has an odd assortment of windows of different shapes and sizes vaguely imitating a freckled child's smiling face. The low horizontal windows at the bottom are designed for toddlers and waddlers to look through either to the outside world or to the oncoming parent.

In this extension development, an entrance courtyard (terminated by the said tower), was created and large corridor windows to the front are deliberate to make the building as bright and friendly as possible. The setting for the building is an Arboritum which belonged to the now disappeared Roebuck Grove Georgian mansion (demolished in 1970).

In response to the stated assessment criteria, the Oakmount Creche houses a blue tower with funny windows on a third level campus for originality, a welcoming courtyard and transparent entrance for form and multiple environmentally friendly elements to fill the brief on sustainability. These include the use of both passive and active solar energy, a humidity variable diffusion resistance vapour barrier and a timber frame. The Oakmount Creche was built just for kids, not for stuffy adults and provides a fun building to observe the world from. Although functionally meeting all the childcare guidelines space requirements for the 50 additional children (110 total) it remains a 'home from home'.The Montessori principle of 'learning by fun' has been significantly enhanced by the buildings colour, openness and relation to playground and outside areas. Different age groups mix in the Magic Room and develop social, creative and imaginary skills.

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