French office Topos Architecture used timber cladding and a pitched roof to give this kindergarten in Mayenne, France, a domestic appearance that the architects thought would be more welcoming to children (+ slideshow).
Named Maison de la Petite Enfance, which translates as House of the Early Childhood, the single-storey complex provides preschool education facilities for 100 children up to the age of five.
Topos Architecture, whose previous projects include a larch-clad nursery in Nantes, planned the building as three zones. Classrooms and activity spaces are positioned at the rear, while staff rooms and storage facilities run along the front, and a sequence of patios and gardens are sandwiched in between.
Narrow strips of Douglas fir provide a uniform cladding across the outer walls and roof of the structure, and were also used for the perimeter fences. "The use of a wood facade gives a unity and a natural tone to the whole building," said the architects.
Windows face inward towards the patios and gardens, while the sloping roof is topped with a chimney-like structure that houses an attic filled with ventilation equipment.
"Overlooking the entrance of the building, the roof has a double slope that gives it the silhouette of a house - an architectural line that is also included in the typology of the surrounding urban fabric," said the architects.
Four large multi-purpose rooms are contained within the building and can be subdivided to accommodate different activities.
Other spaces include a dressing room where children can put on and take off their coats, a sheltered entrance where parents are encouraged to interact and a network of corridors that help to prevent children bringing dirt inside.
Photography is by Jérôme Blin of Collectif Bellavieza.
Here's a short project description from Topos Architecture:
Conception and construction of the House of the Early Childhood
The House of the Early Childhood, located in Mayenne, between the city Centre and the new railway station district, is an urban building of a single level.
The architects have imagined a soft and welcoming architecture for children, for parents, but also for nursery nurses.
In this way, the building is based on a domestic and hospitable universe: presence of wood outside but also inside, reception and common spaces user-friendly, roof partially built in double slope, omnipresent natural light, generous vegetation.
The garden (800 m2) is an outside room really private and there are four patios that give rhythm to the common spaces.
This centre welcomes from now on 90 children in 1300 m2.
This building is emblematic on environmental plan. It has received from Certivéa, the certificate of conformity to the label for High Energy Performance. Certivéa certifies that it's in accordance with the BBC level and with the requirements of the Effinergie brand.
Location: Mayenne (53) - France
Surface: 1 300 m2
Architects: Topos Architecture
Children in the House: 90
Project owner: Ville de Mayenne (City of Mayenne)