Beyond the typical kindergartens of the city “Flower+ Kindergarten” is a project, located in Seoul, the capital city of Korea. In Seoul, there are demanding needs for education facilities with better environment, since the most of the kindergartens in the city have been built with the high density of poor architectural design by reflecting economic values, regulations and small lot sizes in the highly dense city.
To overcome the typical kindergarten’s problems in the city, the project “Flower+ Kindergarten” looked for opportunities to find out architectural solutions for better educational environments in the small and dense site conditions, facing typical problems of Seoul. The project is located in the new apartment complex, nearby the Yang-je stream park and other small pocket parks where children can play freely and safely in the nature. The kindergarten project is designed to take advantage of the surrounding green areas and open spaces to expose children to the nature while balancing between density and spatial value of the kindergarten to nurture them.
The “Flower+ Kindergarten” project is about providing a dynamic physical environment for education as well as interactions between children and the nature, while achieving the density for the kindergarten in the city. To achieve it, multi-purpose halls are introduced instead of the typical Korean kindergarten’s double-loaded corridors and they are spiraling up through vertical promenades connecting between floors so that the kindergarten can have more utilized space and diverse educational environment. It will be a place for children to experience dynamic learning and the change of nature while growing everyday.
Small Landmark among the Highrise Apartments The kindergarten becomes a local landmark in the neighborhood community. Its unique location and shape will provide a local landmark in the homogeneous neighborhood, where every apartment buildings look the same. It will provide a way finding function for both children and neighbors.
Individuality of Each Classroom On each floor, there are three classrooms and one multi-purpose hall at its maximum floor area as the classroom should be more than 44m2 by the local regulations. The multi-purpose hall can accommodate circulations as well as diverse use of space for learning and playing.At the multi-purpose hall, children can recognize their classrooms through the rounded walls, because each classroom can stand out as an identifiable mass through its volumes rather than numbers or texts.The rounded corner of each classroom gives an cozy feeling at the hall, while it is also an architectural solution to provide access among the multi-purpose hall and classrooms.
Vertical Promenade for Children While plans at different levels shares structural walls repeatedly provide efficient construction and planning, the rotating locations of the multi-purpose halls give a dynamic spatial experience for the kindergarten’s interior space. At each level the multipurpose halls create spiral access and movement. Through this circulation children can experience dynamic space and spatial change vertically and mingle together between different levels.The space created below and above the stair is utilized for children’s play-den at children’s scale.
Color Recognition and Color Sensitive Environment From the inside, each floor is assigned with different color on its ceiling and walls so that children can recognize the space through the color difference. There are subtle difference between ceiling, wall and window frames thus the kindergarten’s built environment encourage children’s color sensitivity.Through the change of time between day and night, the color is brimming out differently. During the day time, the white interior walls are imbued with ceiling color through the reflected daylight, as the color is reflected in. To the contrary, during night time, the color is reflected out toward the street through the building’s artificial lighting inside. Each classroom has a large window with projected frames, which are colored with its own designated colors to give a clue about the classroom’s location and presence from the street. Children can identify their own classroom from the street through the color and location of the projected window.
Pocket Panels for Seasonal Planting Exterior wall panels will have extra function of becoming pots for planting. In Korea, outdoor vertical wall system is problematic especially for its extreme winter. Through seasons from spring to fall, people can plant vegetation in the pocket wall panels and grow them following the vegetation’s seasonal cycles. The growing activities can be a part of the school’s curriculum for children. During the extreme winter in Korea, they will hardly have plants survived but have visual functions as a three-dimensional facade, undulating wall panels. Thus, the facade of the building will change dramatically across different seasons, following the planting conditions and the kind of vegetation.
Sun, Wind, Water and Vegetation By having planting pots as its exterior façade system(Pocket panel), the kindergarten provides opportunities for children to grow and observe vegetation closely. The rooftop garden and sunken garden provides extra amenities to both children and teaching staffs to appreciate the value of nature in their everyday life. The rainwater is gathered in the rainwater tank on the basement through the ground and rooftop garden to reuse the water for irrigation. The photovoltaic panels on the roof and natural ventilation windows for each classroom enhance the overall building performance through the year.