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The kindergarten idea is considered to have initiated as early as the 17th century. The origins of the kindergarten idea define certain attitudes to pre-school education that are still widespread to this day. The early kindergarten idea, which related environmental needs to pedagogical needs, brought about a number of important architectural impulses, both in modernistic and organic forms. John Heinrick Pestalozzi founded the first child-centred institution at Yverdin 1805, based on what became essential kindergarten principles from which several pedagogies stemmed.
Philanthropist Robert Owen established a child care institution in New Lanark, Scotland. At the time children over six worked with their parents, therefore the institution only catered for children under six. Staffed by nurses it provided a pleasant atmosphere, although its pedagogical philosophy was unsophisticated. Throughout the 20th century one-off private kindergartens were established in Germany, Britain, Japan and North America. These were based primarily on the Fredrick Froebel philosophy. This philosophy originated from German philosophies in the 19th century. In Froebel’s hostilic philosophy, kindergartens are complimentary to home life, as appose to replacing it.
The Froebel movement spreads to Britain in 1871 when the first kindergarten was built by Sir William Mather. This was followed by the establishment of a ‘free kindergarten’ for children aged between 3 and 6. Many of these early Froebelian based kindergartens were based on the principles of kindergartens as an educational institution, lacking any architectural form or purpose.
A key issue when selecting and appraising educational philosophies is how each system presents information in the development of children. In Froebel’s system children learn through play as appose to the learn, listen, recite method usually employed. Pedagogical drawing is an important factor. Drawing was seen by Froebel as a form of writing.
The ‘gifts and occupations’
His study of the natural sciences gave him an understanding of the connection of geometric forms to the natural environment – such as plant forms and crystals. His work in crystallographic science is said to have persuaded this area of his teaching technique, while his training as an architect influenced the emphasis of precise and unchanging relationships between different things as the central concept of learning.
The child plays with one or more geometric gifts to discover its properties and the possibilities for design. Once a standstill is reached the teacher invokes one or more of the categories to compel a new direction of play. In this way the child discovers the designs that are possible with the selected shapes.
The occupations developed more intricate and complex skills such as forming shapes from moulding clay, and using sticks and rings laid out as letters as the first step towards writing.
Rachael and Margaret MacMillian
Some less pedagogical approaches crept in towards the end of the 19th century, as research began into child behaviours by theorists such as Granville Stanley Hall and John Dewey. As this was underway in the USA, closer to home Rachael and Margaret MacMillian began creating an educational philosophy of their own. In 1913, in London they founded an open-air nursery school, based on a more practical approach to child-care. Their approach was to concentrate on the basic needs of children with physical exercise and fresh air as the main priority.
“The need for imagination, a sense of truth and a feeling of responsibility – these are the three forces which are the very nerve of education.”
Rudolf Steiner was the founder of another educational pedagogy which is still in use today. His controversial thinking can be mainly attributed to some of the facts about his life and the resultant approach to the problem of education. Born in Croatia in 1861, Steiner began finished higher education and continued into further education with the intention of becoming a grammar-school teacher. He failed to complete this course, but went on to study philosophy under Johann van Goethe for several years. He then moved to Berlin and was attracted to the forward-thinking literary Bohemia, the workers movement and the reforming religious thinkers. Here he became leader of a spiritual renewal movement and founder of a philosophical community that was entirely focused on his own personality. In 1919, a defeated Germany brought about innovative thinking and the opportunity for Steiner to try out his ideas on education in a new school.
On 7 September 1919, he ceremonially opened the first Free Waldorf School as a combined co-educational primary and secondary school for 256 children drawn mainly from the families of workers at the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart (Germany). Steiner’s basic ideas on education were conceived in the period between 1906 and 1909 in a manner which to begin with had naturalistic overtones:
“Out of the essence of the developing individual, ideas on education will grow, as it were, of their own accord.”
However, in contrast to the path taken by Dewey and Montessori, who sought to establish their New Education on recent ideas of experimental child psychology, Steiner based his educational plan entirely on his “cosmic spiritualistic anthropology” according to NAME (yyyy),
“If we wish to detect the essence of the growing individual, we must set out from a consideration of the hidden nature of man as such.”
In Steiner’s educational philosophy the educational growth of the child is viewed as a process of rebirth. In a seven-year cycle from the head via the heart to the hands education takes the form of growth and metamorphosis. The educator is seen as the gardener of this growth. From a belief in reincarnation stems the image of education as an aid to incarnation and spiritual awakening. In this case the educator becomes a priest and a healer. With these educational forces, Steiner built the levers that are still being implemented by teachers and educators in his schools and kindergartens today.
These educational philosophies can be broken down into three main ideas. First, the intellectual philosophy spread by Froebel, later associated with Naturphilosophy, whereby the child’s educational and social development take precedence. The second is the more pragmatic approach created in Britain’s cities as a result of health concern for young children living in these overcrowded urban areas. This approach is based on circumstances in the past which are not as evident in today’s society, namely forced child labour and severe overcrowding in cities.
The third is the Steiner pedagogy. The practice of this system of education includes a broad spectrum of artistic and handicraft learning potentials, a caring attitude to children and many opportunities for conscious participation in community tasks.
In my opinion Fredrick Froebel’s approach
is far too important to be left to the unquestioning adepts of Rudolf Steiner.
While researching the kindergarten as a building type, it was clear that many of the buildings do not live up to the needs of the children, i.e. the learning environment. According to KINDERGARTEN ARCHITECTURE (yyyy) kindergartens and nursery schools are often dealt with as add-on classes to existing primary school education facilities, particularly in Britain, with no real concern for the needs of the child. The importance of the building form – and in turn the construction materials – is vital to creating an atmosphere that supports the children’s activities, and consequently improving the learning outcomes.
The building typology should seek to create an environment that encourages the learning process by addressing issues of emotional and physical well being amongst the children. This concept implies that success in learning at an early age can be linked to the environment created by the materials used and the architectural and structural form of the buildings i.e. a comfortable environment will facilitate the learning process.
The kindergarten is the first place where children make acquaintances with new people and new surroundings, and where they become part of a new community. Therefore designing a kindergarten involves not only creating a protective environment for children, but also introducing them to a new space where communication and expression are given free reign.
In designing kindergartens, the building form and materials must exploit geometry, colours and images intended to evoke associative meanings within the child’s mind. Broadly speaking, in educational facilities in Britain, there are three construction methods used, with varying materials, used either alone or in combination with one another. These are framed construction, load-bearing wall construction and prefabricated construction.
Framed construction use steel or concrete columns and beams to support walls and floors. Structural floors are generally reinforced concrete slabs or steel floor panels with concrete laid between them. This type of construction can provide maximum flexibility providing the spacing of the columns allows for the space required for teaching areas.
Load bearing wall construction is where walls are designed to carry the load of any additional flooring and the roof. These walls are generally constructed of brick or concrete block. In order for large open plan spaces to exist in these structures additional beams or other load-bearing elements must be employed.
Prefabricated construction does not segregate any material. Teaching spaces are fully or partly constructed off-site and brought on-site in a state almost ready for use.
The following are a few examples of different kindergartens and there construction techniques. There is much more space allowed for in these modern kindergartens than in any traditional kindergarten buildings.
Caesarea kindergarten – (Reinforced concrete construction)
In many cases building a kindergarten is a way of creating an imaginary world, a space where children receive physical and social exposure to the outside world beyond their home and family. It is in this context that many kindergarten building forms are based. An example of this is the Or-Akiva kindergarten in Miami. Images of the Grasshopper and the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz were used creating a unique atmosphere to encourage children to architecturally create starting points for their own stories/dreams. In the same way the Caesarea kindergarten in Israel uses a visually striking façade of three elephants which relate to the archaeological site on which it is built, and the ancient Roman city known also as Caesarea. Images taken from the architects website (Knafo Klimor Architects) can be viewed to the right and below:
The building is constructed of reinforced concrete. As with any RC structure, the material permits an especially flexible design, which has allowed the freedom to create this remarkable façade.
Kindergarten Sighartstein – (Steel frame construction)
The Kindergarten Sighartstein, Austria, is an example of the use of a contemporary steel frame structure. Designed by Kadawittfeldarchetektur, a German practice, this building makes use of metal cladding elements with the concept of “kindergarten-in-motion”. The images below taken from the Kadawittfeldarchetektur Architects website show the external façade:
The green metal elements are designed to replicate blades of grass, integrating the building into the surrounding area of green meadows and fields. The premise is to create a built playground. Internally the building is split into two horizontal layers. The steel structure affords large open plan central hall which can be seen in the image below:
This is the mid-point of the building and it serves as the multifunctional “interactions space” – a communicative core for both children and careers located at the intersection between functions. Large glazed sections and openings onto the courtyard create a valuable connection to the external surroundings.
The flat roofed two-story cubic building optimally distributes the functions of a kindergarten. On the ground floor, one finds the space for the kindergarten groups, with the crèche accommodated in the protected upper story. In the crèche, an expandable third space has been made possible through a planned reallocation of the space.
Eco-Kindergarten – (Prefabricated construction)
The Eco-Kindergarten was designed by C.F. Moller Architects in demark. The building is constructed from pre-fabricated wooden insulated wall segments, with large glazed facades providing daylighting and passive solar heating. A touch-screen at the entrance informs parents about the current energy-performance, and provides information from the pedagogues. It is a sustainable and well though through pedagogical design.
The fundamental architectural concept is a simple and clear geometric form on two levels, with the children’s areas located in the best-lit southern end. The two levels are linked by staircases and ramps which are designed to stimulate and challenge the children’s sensory and motor skills.
There is a pedagogical idea throughout the interior design. It is all based on the notion that children enjoy attractive and challenging environments in which to learn. An image of the main entrance is shown below:
Another example is the small alcoves built into various parts of the building where children can enjoy their own spaces to play, read or just be alone.
The materials used and the architectural form of the building creates a healthy safe environment for the children, including the reduction of the possible spread of influenza among both children and adults. The highly insulated construction will consume under 20% of the energy used in a standard building of this size and function.
The Kindergarten Barbapapa by CCD Studio is an example of timber and steel combined in a building construction. The building makes use of vibrant colours throughout.
Lucinahaven Toulov Childcare
Another example of a kindergarten building form is the Lucinahaven Toulov childcare centre in Denmark. It was designed by CEBRA, a Danish group who have specialized in several kindergarten designs.
The building is divided into 6 different sections. Each section is hexagonal in shape, making up the overall shape of a flower. The yellow centre of the daisy is the kindergarten’s central activity room. Attached to the centre are the petals housing the staff rooms and 6 group rooms 2 in each hexagon.
The design concept is decisive for the creation of a successful timber structure. We understand “design concept” to include the architectural idea, the interior layout, and technical measures. An early decision regarding the choice of loadbearing system and the associated conceptual and constructional considerations, together with fire protection and sound insulation plays a key role in the design process.
At the same time, the systems for thermal performance, airtightness, and moisture control, the needs of the building services, measures concerning durability, maintenance, and the operation of a building, right up to its end-of-life deconstruction, must all be considered. For design and construction teams it is vital to link the demands of the project with the possibilities and limits of the technical concepts in such a way that a credible whole ensues.
The basic timber building systems are:
– Log construction
– Timber-frame construction
– Balloon- and platform-frame construction
– Panel construction
– Frame construction
– Solid timber construction
Log construction, timber-frame construction and balloon/platform-frame construction are the traditional forms of timber construction which are a rarity in recent years. With regards new builds, they are mainly found in isolation on a residential scale. The building systems that currently dominate today’s market will be dealt with in detail. It is important to state that these systems can be used in combination with one another. For example pre-fabricated panels could be used for a building component such as the walls, alongside solid timber constructed floors.These are:
– Panel construction
– Frame construction
– Solid timber construction
The basic idea behind modern panel construction relates to prefabrication in the factory, where various wall, floor and roof assemblies are planned and manufactured as elements to suit different building uses. As was customary with the forerunner to panel construction – the platform frame – structures built using panel construction are planned, designed, manufactured and erected storey by storey.
Panel construction, grew out of balloon-frame and platform- frame forms of construction. The external appearance of buildings designed for this form of construction does not generally conform to the traditional western idea of a timber building. The load-bearing ribs of panel construction are completely concealed, both inside and outside. Facade cladding is usually wood-based board products or solid timber, with good, long-lasting protection in the form of opaque surface treatments. Opaque paint gives very good protection. The only disadvantage with opaque paint is the fact that when the natural colour of wood is covered, it is generally more labour intensive and lengthy to carry out maintenance. This may not be an issue in kindergarten construction as holiday periods are quite long. The VOC of treatments should be kept to a minimum as buildings are becoming increasingly air tight and health risks may amplify with younger children involved.
The structural carcass of a building in panel construction is in some locations finished with a thermal insulation composite system (insulation and render). The inner lining of the walls is made up of wood-based board products, gypsum fibreboard, or plasterboard plastered white and then finished with a coat of paint or wallpaper. Sound and fire protection solutions may be an issue (especially for a kindergarten) without the proper detailing. However, once an adequate solution is reached, the repetitive detailing of this form of construction makes designing straightforward.
For a kindergarten on site such as Craiglockhart the general consensus for cost purposes would be a single or two storey structure, although multi-storey construction is possible using panel construction. Due to the standardisation of member sections, modular dimensions, connections and construction details, panel construction represents a simple timber building system.
Another feature of panel construction is the design freedom which it allows. Internally the spaces can be divided in any manner required.
The use of modern frame construction in large-volume one and two storey buildings is becoming more and more widespread. This form of construction allows for widely spaced columns in timber or in combination with steel or reinforced concrete. New linear wood-based products and their connection techniques have contributed to this growing importance.
Modern frame construction in timber includes primary structural members erected on a widely spaced grid between which the internal and external walls can be positioned as required and constructed using a variety of methods and materials. Therefore frame construction is a method of building in which the functions of load-bearing structure and enclosing walls are clearly separated.
Frame Construction is understood to be an independent, modern form of timber construction with the following characteristics: a form of construction comprising columns, beams and bracing elements placed on a regular grid to form a load-bearing structure. This primary structure supports the suspended floors – made up of timber joist floors or planar, prefabricated elements – which are classed as the secondary structure. The walls enclosing the interior spaces can be installed independently of this load-bearing framework because they do not carry any loads, making large windows and glass facades possible.
Wherever possible, the load-bearing structure of a frame building in timber is placed on the inside of the external walls for constructional reasons (protection from the weather and airtightness of the building envelope) and also left exposed internally. The enclosing envelope can therefore be placed around the building without joints or seams. Internally, the arrangement of the load-bearing components determines and emphasizes the architectural character.
In frame construction, besides the efficiency, it is first and foremost the architectural diversity and the clarity of the constructional form that is so appealing. This is important as design of a building of this type with the freedom of a large site may result in some extreme suggestions for the building envelope.
The use of individual columns in frame construction concentrates the loading. Longer spans are permitted with fewer internal columns than other timber building systems, which leave plenty of freedom for the design of the interior layout. Timber members are generally left exposed in the finished building so the use of glued laminated timber is usually preferred.
There are several different forms of timber frame construction which are chosen depending on the loads imposed, the grid and the architectural form of the building.
Columns and compound beams
This form of construction with columns supporting compound beams has a primary structure consisting of one-part columns and two-part continuous beams, and is frequently used because of its simplicity, which leads to an overall economic solution.
Beams and compound columns
In this form of construction the one-part beams are connected to the continuous two-part columns by means of mechanical fasteners. Construction using this method is often preferred owing to the architectural design options.
Columns and over-sailing beams
The simple form of construction with one-part columns and beams is suitable for single-storey flat-roof structures
Beams and continuous columns
The primary structure of this form of construction consists of continuous columns and main beams designed as simply supported beams spanning between the columns. This system is particularly suitable for structures whose structural frame lies on the inside of the building envelope with the external walls subsequently fixed to the outside of the structural frame so there are no horizontal load-bearing members penetrating the building envelope.
The primary structure is in the form of a one-part continuous beam supported on storey-height columns. The columns are connected together via the forks. Higher loads can be carried because timber sections carry loads parallel to the grain.
Besides clear, preferably simple load paths, the straightforward transfer of loads into components and down to the foundations, plus the bracing of the structure, are key aspects. The flexible nature of this form of construction, along with the use of glued timber members means that it fulfils demands regarding quality and engineering, and makes it an excellent choice for kindergarten construction.
Solid timber construction
There have been new systems developed in solid timber in recent years. This is mainly due to the introduction of large-format elements into the industry. The components are generally of solid timber which has been glued, dowelled or nailed together. These elements make up the load-bearing core which is at the heart of all solid timber buildings. The thermal insulation is attached to the outside of the structure, and solid timber components absorb moisture from the interior air, store this, and release it again during drier periods.
Usually the structure is constructed storey-by-storey; however continuous walls with suspended floors are also possible. Either way solid timber construction offers an efficient load-carrying performance. Early involvement of specialist engineers is essential early in the design stage. There are a number of different systems which are used in solid timber structures. These include:
Depending on product and manufacturer, we distinguish between single-ply or cross-banded glued, dowelled or nailed, and single- or multiply cross-sections. Softwood (spruce, fir) plies or laminations form the raw materials for these elements; alternatively, the large-format components can be made from wood-based products (particleboard, OSB, etc.). The elements pre-assembled in the factory to form walls complete with the necessary openings for doors and windows, accurate and ready for erection. Suspended floors, too, can be built using the same systems and the same methods, but different forms of construction can be combined in the same structure.
Cross-laminated timber consists of several plies of cross-banded glued planks. The raw materials are spruce or fir planks. Assembling these as cross-banded plies produces planar loadbearing elements that can carry loads in both directions with excellent dimensional stability.
Edge-fixed timber elements are made up of planks (laminations) placed on edge which are normally continuous, i.e. no joints, over the full length of the element. Finger joints in the length are also possible, therefore making larger element formats possible. Laminations are normally between 20 and 50 mm thick. In order to transfer the shear forces in the transverse direction and to distribute individual loads, the laminations are interconnected with nails or hardwood dowels.
Cross-banded and dowelled
Dowelled solid timber elements consist of a 60-80 mm thick core of vertical planks to which several plies of softwood planks 20-50 mm thick are attached horizontally, vertically and diagonally on both sides by means of dowels. Owing to the cross-banded, sometimes also diagonal, arrangement of the plies, these elements can help to brace a structure against horizontal loads.
Cross-banded spaced plies
The elements are made from cross-banded glued boards which are positioned at a certain pitch with gaps in between. This creates coordinated cavities which offer space for building services but also thermal and/or acoustic insulating materials. Such elements are available for walls, suspended floors, and roofs.
Prefabrication and industrial production are gaining importance nowadays as they reduce the number of man-hours on site. The definition of prefabrication is the off-site pre-assembly of individual elements to form complete components. In timber construction there is always some form of prefabrication, although modest in most cases. Off-site industrial fabrication on a small or large scale has now enabled timber to become a serious contender for structures on a larger scale such as this. Three basic systems in timber building prevail when trying to maximise the amount of off-site work: panel construction, solid timber construction, and, for larger structures, frame construction.
Panel construction allows for enclosed components such as partitions and suspended floors to be pre-fabricated with the loadbearing elements, with the option to include windows, doors and in some cases even building services in a single building module. In contrast with this frame construction has a clear separation between the load-bearing structure and enclosing elements. So the two-dimensional elements for suspended floors, walls, and roof are generally added to the load-bearing structure in a second phase of construction. But as with panel construction, frame construction also permits the whole range from minimum prefabrication right up to the complete incorporation of doors, windows, building services, facade and so on, for the non-load-bearing, enclosing components.
The various fabrication or prefabrication stages govern the degree of prefabrication building components have when they leave the works, and how erection on the building site is to be carried out. A high degree of prefabrication could be achieved if the facade construction and facade cladding are also added off-site, and, if necessary, the internal lining is attached. The surface finishes could even be applied; however, this requires a high degree of protection of the components during transport and erection to avoid any damage. The advantages of off-site fabrication for the kindergarten will depend on the technologies available during planning, production, transport, and erection.
In recent years the planners and manufacturers prefabricated building components or prefabricated houses have pushed back the boundaries of optimum prefabrication further and further. The building components may be delivered to the building site virtually as complete, finished units, including building services and often the internal furnishings and fittings.
As with any educational building the cultural benefits to the surrounding area will be very influential. In addition to providing for basic education for children, they serve as social and cultural centres. They are places for sports, theatre, music, and other social, cultural and recreational activities.
The cultural benefits of using timber for a kindergarten may be gauged by looking at the building from the child’s perspective. When designing a kindergarten the architect must look at the world through the eyes of a child. The architect must consider the scale of the building and how it is perceived by the child. The warmth created by using exposed timber elements throughout the interior of the building would, for instance, create a
Good architecture should imply good function as well as good aesthetical and structural design.
In addition, the
timber sections employed and the board-type wood and gypsum
materials used can always be supplied in good quality at short notice.
integrating environmental design issues that are
traditionally ignored in contemporary schools, like
natural ventilation or daylighting, the school becomes
less of an institution and more like a home.
square footage requirements. Contemporary school
design rarely reflects a desire to create an
environment where learning could be encouraged
by the building itself.
The importance of the environment created by the building form and its use as an educational tool is very important.
An example of the building form as an educational tool is the use of a children’s book as a pedagogical feature representing a communication between the child’s world and the strange outside world. The imaginary spaces contained
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