Arhitektura Jure Kotnik designed a beautiful and fun kindergarten that’s as much about playtime as it is about eco-friendly design. Located in Slovenia’s Šmartno pri Slovenj Gradcu city, the Šmartno Timeshare Kindergarten is a timber-clad building constructed with as many natural materials as possible and a low-energy footprint. The design’s strategic layout and diverse play options encourage physical activity, interaction, peer learning, and self-learning.
Clad in locally sourced timber, the two-story Šmartno Timeshare Kindergarten is housed within a compact building that uses extensive insulation, high-quality isolated windows, and passive solar design to minimize energy consumption. The north facade has limited openings, while the south facade is left fully open. The energy-efficient building achieves below 32kWh per square meter. Mostly prefab elements were used in constructing the building, which was completed in only four months.
Flexibility and freedom of choice are also major components in the kindergarten design. In contrast to the traditional kindergarten, which usually comprises multiple similar playrooms, Šmartno Timeshare Kindergarten has eight distinct playrooms, each offering a different learning environment and play equipment. For instance, one playroom is geared towards scientific learning, while another is better furnished for music or sports learning. Much of the furniture is on wheels to allow for different configurations. In addition, there are over 65 activity corners for children to choose from, which also increases their chances of interaction with different kids.
One of the kindergarten’s best features is located at the building core: a rainbow-colored, numbered set of 22 stairs and a bright red slide. The stairs help children learn their colors and numbers, while the slide is used as a major passive element of exercise: according to the architects, children go down the slide 10 to 20 times each day on average. A blackboard is placed on the wall next to the stairs for children to draw and write on. The outdoors also promotes physical activity with sandboxes, a water game area, a climbing area, and even a vegetable garden.
Images via Arhitektura Jure Kotnik, © Janez Marolt Photography