Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
‘Dragen’ Children’s House in Odense, Denmark by C. F. Møller Architects
April 11th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: C. F. Møller Architects
The integrated kindergarten ‘Dragen’ sets new standards, as a sustainable and pedagogically thought-through design. The components are largely ‘Nordic Swan’ eco-labelled. The construction is a certified passive-house, using a minimum of energy. And the children’s needs and well-being has been the main driver in the 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 far more space available than in traditional kindergartens, and there is a pedagogical idea to the interior design. The entire architecture is supporting the ambitions Odense Municipality has for the children’s development – namely that they enjoy attractive and challenging surroundings for learning and growing,” says Odense’s councilwoman for Children & Young People’s Services, Jane Jegind.
As an example, the Children’s House Dragen has small niches distributed throughout, where children can play, read or just withdraw. The total area is 414 m2 of play space for the 88 children (44 in the kindergarten and 44 in the crèche), which is far more than the minimum standards of 268 m2. This will reduce the risk for spreading of illness, and generally make room for more activities.
In addition, there are purpose-built spaces, giving the children special opportunities: There is a small theatre, atelier, motor skills room and pedagogical kitchens indoors and out. Another feature are small ‘loopholes’ in the walls, allowing kids to play across the room divisions.
The building respects the environment, energy-savings and not least the health of the children and employees. The highly insulated construction will consume less than 20 percent of the energy used for a standard building.
Passive-houses built of healthy materials have also been proven to reduce the spreading of flues, meaning fewer sick-days for children and adults.
The building is constructed from pre-fabricated wooden insulated wall segments, and generous glazed facades provide daylighting and passive solar heating. In addition the building integrates solar hot water and electricity generation and a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery. A touch-screen at the entrance informs parents about the current energy-performance, and provides info and updates from the pedagogues.
Nordic Swan Ecolabel
Scandinavians usually associate the Nordic Swan Eco-label with commodities such as toilet paper and washing-up liquid, but now the label can also be awarded to building components. A component with the Nordic Swan Eco-label is one which has a minimal effect on the environment, and secures a good indoor climate. The use of eco-labelled building components takes into account the environmental factors throughout the entire construction process – right from the raw materials to the finished building.
Dragebakken Kindergarten is one of the first kindergartens in Denmark to be constructed using Nordic Swan Eco-labelled materials, certifying that the building imposes a minimal environmental load. The building is constructed as a passive house, which means that its energy consumption, and thereby its CO2 footprint, will be drastically reduced.
This low level of energy consumption is achieved through increased insulation, extremely air-tight structures, well-regulated ventilation and highly efficient heat recycling.
In layman’s terms, this means that the building is so well-insulated that even the children’s activities will cause the interior temperature to rise. Humidity in the rooms will be removed by air conditioning.
The actual construction process is also as sustainable as possible in all phases. Environmentally harmful materials have been rejected, and the energy consumption involved in construction will be minimised by using prefabricated elements with brief assembly times.
Contact C. F. Møller Architects