Is it functional to have a kindergarten without a ‘playground’ ?
Location is important. Two opposing aspects emerge in the urban context: on the one hand, the institution of the kindergarten is dependent on an inner city or suburban location in order to guarantee accessibility for visitors. On the other hand, a densely settled urban location may limit the kindergarten’s expansion possibilities or size of outdoor facilities. The kindergarten is located in Erkner, a suburban town in the north-eastern part of Berlin.
Erkner is a border region, a territory which is defined by its location next to Poland, visually expressed through architecture. The site location is dominated by its topography and location nearby a lake. The design task is to thoughtfully design a building that is an integral part of the landscape. The scale relates to the surrounding development, and also takes the perspective of the children into account. Therefore, this new kindergarten building acts as a mediator between these worlds, starting from the context but transcending it.
Three design parameters were proposed and integrated in the kindergarten design:
Visual connection or passive contact – Corridors, transition spaces and circulation paths for the children are the elements to be concerned to enhance passive connections amongst the children. Children are able to realize the vast happening drama in the neighborhood as well as the spaces other than their own classrooms.
Shapes and forms – Children are visual learners. One of the advantages is that children will build better understanding of two-dimensional and three-dimensional structures. Space cleaning activity (once a week) is suggested to allow children to develop a sense of depth towards their living environment.
Design elements as playscapes – Encourage children to play and consider playing as part of the learning process. Children learn and gain experience through playing. Typical playground elements are replaced with architecture elements to create a sense of surprise and challenges for the children.