Open Anonymous Architectural Competition for a new 16-unit kindergarten in Kočevje, Slovenia, 2018
Wooden, 16-unit kindergarten follows the shape of a number eight, twisting around the three distinct common spaces -"hill", "puddle" and a "cave", acting as spatial orientation points.
The site for the new 16-unit kindergarten is located in the Municipality of Kočevje, a city with approx. 8,600 inhabitants, located in the south-eastern part of Slovenia. The new kindergarten is to be located in the area of the existing kindergarten building (to be demolished), within a dense city settlement. Momentarily there is a lot of green areas and private gardens on the northern side of the plot (behind the existing kindergarten), but that will soon give way to Mercator shopping center and its numerous parking areas. The construction of a shopping center also envisages the construction of a new, one-way access road from the road Ljubljanska cesta to the shopping mall parking spaces that will be partly shared by kindergarten. On the southern side of the plot there is an industrial building – a printing house and the oldest part of the existing kindergarten building that will be preserved for the needs of administration. The location itself does not offer any exquisite views, since it is surrounded by built tissue without any special qualities.
For all the above reasons we initially started from a very basic lamella structure in the direction NW-SE on the extreme north-eastern part of the plot. By moving away from the existing kindergarten (that we partially had to preserve), we searched for appropriate illumination, the optimal size of the outer playing areas and the obstruction of views towards the shopping center and its parking spaces. The placement of the younger age groups with all common and service spaces in the ground floor meant a large built-up area that did not provide enough exterior playing surfaces. By moving the upper playing modules towards north-east, we were able to establish a second level of outdoor playing areas, intended for the older age groups. Additionally, by moving the ground floor playing rooms for one module towards south-east we created two exterior atriums in the middle of the building volume that enable better illumination of the north-eastern common and auxiliary spaces.
The basic building module consists of two playrooms, each 60 m2 in size, connected through children amenities and a sliding partition wall between them. Both opposite playroom walls serve as a 'thick wall' - a storage room for props, deckchairs, etc. pierced with round, soft, egg-shaped and upholstered niches that allow you to peek into the neighbouring playroom, corridor, atrium, common space, reading, resting and retreat into privacy and silence. The idea behind all openings in the kindergarten is the visual connection between the various rooms that enable learning by observation. For the same reason, it is also envisaged to open joint staff and kitchen facilities towards the communications used by children.
The new kindergarten Čebelica (Bee) unit, typologically and programmatically, follows the shape of a number 8, twisting around the two exterior atriums, where all the kindergarten users can meet and interact. The building is designed as a low entity in a diverse and structured way, where three common spaces diverse in color and program (exterior atriums: »hill«, »puddle« and inner multipurpose space: »cave«) act as spatial orientation points, helping children, parents and kindergartens staff to navigate through the rather large building. On the outside, the wooden kindergarten, with its yellow exterior screens and cabinets for props gives a positive and warm feeling – it resembles stacked beehive panels (typical Slovene motive) from where bees fly in and out.
Location: Kočevje, Slovenia
Project date: 2018
Site area: 6.935 m2
Building area: 2.400 m2
Total floor area: 3.625 m2
Client: Kočevje Municipality
Award: 1st prize at the Open Anonymous Architectural Competition
Project team: SVET VMES, d.o.o.: Jure Hrovat, Ana Kreč, Jaka Korla, Nadja Krašovec, Eva Sevšek, Maja Starič
Visualizations: Jakub Chojna
Landscape architecture: Darja Matjašec, Nejc Florjanc, Petra Pečan
Structural engineer/consultant: dr. Bruno Dujić, Jure Jančar, CBD, d.o.o.
Mechanical and electrical engineer/consultant: Peter Blažek, NOM BIRO, d.o.o.