This kindergarten in Gandia, eastern Spain, has a cloud-shaped courtyard that encloses six mulberry trees (+ slideshow).
The entrance to the single-storey Kid University by Paredes Pedrosa leads straight through to the central courtyard, which features an open-air theatre and sand pit, and is surrounded by classrooms split into two blocks.
The southern block contains a cafeteria, office, baby room, reading room, computer suite and art studio, while to the north-east of the courtyard is a music room, dance studio and indoor theatre.
Double-height glazing on the internal facing walls offers pupils a view out to the courtyard and brings in natural light, dappled by the maple trees. Most of the classrooms also have doors that lead directly outdoors.
Floors are lined with linoleum and the ceilings are covered with cork to absorb sound.
The exterior facades and roof are clad in white ceramic tiles. The roof is sloped away from the centre, preventing rain water running into the courtyard.
In the north-west of the courtyard children can look out toward the nearby Serpis river that runs through the city.
A former water basin has been refurbished for swimming and water games.
We've also featured another project from Paredes Pedrosa: a public library with a layout determined by an ancient archeological excavation.
Photographs are by Roland Halbe.
Here's more information from Paredes Pedrosa:
UPI. Kid University in Gandia
Paredes Pedrosa, arquitectos
The Kid University in Gandia (UPI) is an experimental initiative proposed by the Municipality of Gandía. The UPI is not a conventional kindergarten, but a group of specialised classrooms and workshops located in a natural setting where kids can develop their creativity and have fun beyond a school context.
The proposed volume does not alter the Ausias March Park’s layout. Indeed, it respects the position of six existing white mulberry trees, arranging the classrooms around them and shaping a central lobed courtyard. Library, computers, painting, photography, auditorium, theatre and music classrooms are arranged around the mulberry trees.
This courtyard is the core of the Kid University, linking open spaces, covered areas and indoor rooms. Towards the exterior, the building exhibits a sober and continuous facade, serving as a sort of palisade, that avoids building up fences.
White coloured ceramic tiles are the material both for facades and roof. There is continuity in the material that builds up the whole exterior of the building. From the outside, the building intends to be a light, white ceramic fence where the shade of the nearby trees is reflected.
Vernacular architecture in this Mediterranean area uses ceramic that does not need any maintenance and adapts naturally to its mild climate. In summer it reflects the strong local light and protects inside from high temperatures.
Ceramics are designed as three-dimensional pieces with a can shaped mould that resembles a continuous bamboo fence. The pieces are double faced and the flat side is used for the roof.
In the patio, the facades are built with wooden carpentries painted white, so there is a transparency between inside and outside and all mulberry trees can be seen from the classrooms. In the inside finishing’s is linoleum for pavements and cork for ceilings as sound absorbent material, combined with the concrete structure walls.
Sustainability is achieved by the own concept of the building. Cost was tight and both structure and construction are finishing’s and conditioning. The interior is shaded from the intense summer sun by the mulberry trees that attenuate solar irradiation and cast scattered shadows to the interior of classrooms. And so artificial light is reduced to the essential.
In winter, mulberry trees have no leaves and sun light enters freely into the classrooms. Once spring has transformed the trees and they are full of leaves they become a natural shade for children.
In the outside the ceramic continuous walls bear naturally the patina of time and have no maintenance. The only openings are the entrance fence and a large window overlooking the historical centre. The sloped ceramic roof attenuates solar irradiation and conducts water from rain to the patio and to the trees where a central playground has a circular sand pit and a circular bench for telling stories and outdoor music.
A nearby old water basin is refurbished for children swimming and water games.
Project: 2010. Construction: 2010-2011
Location: Parque Ausías March, Gandía. Valencia
Architects: Angela García de Paredes and Ignacio Pedrosa
Project team: Álvaro Oliver, Álvaro Rábano, Lucía Guadalajara, Ángel Camacho, Laura Pacheco
Technical control: Antonio García Blay
Structure: Alfonso G. Gaite. GOGAITE, S.L.
Mechanical engineer: JG S.A.
Location: Ausías March Park, Gandía
Client: Municipality of Gandía
Contractor: Alesa Proyectos y Contratas S.A.
Tiles: Ceràmica Cumella
Floor area: 1075 sqm.
Programme: multiple classrooms and workshops, cafeteria, administration