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Wood land preschool building teaches children about nature

“A charming proposal that puts nature on display inside and out. The informality of the plan and the alternating between enclosed and outdoor terraces helps integrate the project into its surroundings,” Marcus Carter, Judge.

Project: Woodland Wonders Preschool

Award: Future Projects – Education, Gold, 2022

Location: Auburn, Alabama, United States

Architect: Leers Weinzapfel Associates 

With an idyllic location nestled within the 120-acre Kreher Preserve, Woodland Wonders Preschool will allow youngsters to learn about the natural world and cultivate a sense of stewardship toward the environment. Designed to be an extension of the network of trails throughout the preserve, the preschool is organised along a central "learning trail" spine. Light-filled classrooms alternate with an administrative area and a series of open and covered porches that extend out into the natural woodlands beyond. Constructed from timber harvested on-site, it will be a “building as a teaching tool” that demonstrates and celebrates the potential of wood as a sustainable, low embodied carbon solution critical to addressing today’s climate crisis. Exposed natural wood ceilings, walls, floors, doors, windows and open decks make sustainable forestry a tangible part of the school experience. 

Design highlights

A series of butterfly roof structures provide shading, while generous glazing and windows allow for ample daylight and natural ventilation to increase sustainable, lower energy operation of the building. 
Biophilic design principles reinforce the connection to nature, with exposed local yellow pine throughout, direct outdoor views in all spaces and use of nature motifs and details like butterfly door handles. Consistent with the mission of the Kreher Nature Preserve, healthy trees are saved and incorporated into the design.

  • Woodland Wonders Preschool
  • Woodland Wonders Preschool
  • Woodland Wonders Preschool
  • Woodland Wonders Preschool

Photo credit: Leers Weinzapfel Associates 

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