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Kočevje Kindergarten

Open Anonymous Architectural Competition for a new 16-unit, timber kindergarten, 1st prize

Kočevje, Slovenia, 2022

A 16-unit, timber kindergarten arranged around two outdoor atria –  "hill" and "puddle" acting as spatial markers.

The kindergarten built in Kočevje on brownfield land regenerates part of town by condensing programme previously dispersed in unfit buildings and is providing a new learning environment that emphasizes the children’s freedom of choice by creating various nooks, the right to privacy with spaces of seclusion, the possibility of learning by observing other users of the kindergarten, development of spatial sensitivity through diverse spatial experiences including sincere use of building materials with tactile surfaces for 350 children and their caretakers.


The kindergarten envelope closes towards the urban northern side of the plot, creating one appearance and opens to the southern playground exposing the warm timber interior of the playrooms creating a dialogue with its context. The building itself organizes units around two atria - "puddle" and "hill" - that allow for light to reach the deep ground floorplan and add to the spatial experiences, with younger children staying on the ground floor with a direct connection to the exterior playground while the older children's home rooms inhabit the first floor with direct access to the roof playground. This way the footprint of the building is minimized while creating enough exterior playground area and direct access for all playrooms.


The irregularly shaped façade nooks, soften the building and place children as actors in the living façade –everybody wants to play in windows. The building lives through the users and becomes a stage for the everyday life of children, their parents, their teachers, their cooks, and cleaners, …The interior of the building shows off its wooden structure as much as possible, to give the interior a contrasting warmth. The interior thick playroom walls allow for storing of daybeds, toys, creations and form playful, upholstered nooks that allow children to peek into the outside world and observe their friends arriving in the morning or their grandparents in the afternoon to pick them up. The main stairs are doubled by a tunnel that only kids can use, to try and beat their parents to the top where a slide that disappears into the floor awaits.


From its inception the municipality strived for a kindergarten, that would embody the ideals of sustainable development. The building is almost entirely constructed of wood and wood-based construction materials. The structure is mainly cross-laminated timber exposed to the interior, insulated with wood fibre, and protected by a wooden ventilated façade finished of with thermally treated spruce. The building achieves the ‘Passiv Haus’ standard, also by utilizing district heating powered by wood biomass burning.


Location: Kočevje, Slovenia

Project date: 2018

Completion date: 2022 (click to see its construction process)

Site area: 9.075 m2

Building area: 2.462 m2

Total floor area: 5.025 m2

Type: public/educational

Client: Kočevje Municipality

Photography: Exterior: Ana Skobe, Interior: Matevž Paternoster, Žiga Lovšin


Architecture: SVET VMES, d.o.o.: Jure Hrovat, mia; Ana Kreč, mia; Katja Paternoster, mia

Landscape architecture: TEKTONIKA, d.o.o.: Darja Matjašec, udika; Nejc Florjanc, udika, Katja Mali, udika

Collaborators: Tjaša Koglot, mia; Ana Križaj, mia; Marko Kavčič, Sebastjan Oblak


Architecture: SVET VMES, d.o.o.: Jure Hrovat, mia; Ana Kreč, mia; Students: Jaka Korla, Nadja Krašovec, Eva Sevšek, Maja Starič; Visualizations: Jakub Chojna, mia

Landscape architecture: TEKTONIKA, d.o.o.: Darja Matjašec, udika; Nejc Florjanc, udika; Petra Pečan, udika



Plečnik Medal 2023

Golden Pencil / Zlati svinčnik 2023, ZAPS

OHS (Open House Slovenia) 2023 Award in the category of Public Buildings

1st prize at the Open Anonymous Architectural Competition, ZAPS 2018

Related articles and mentions:


Plečnik Awards 2023 documentary


Kultura RTV Slo

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