Situated at the highest point of Bernts Have, a neighborhood in the south-western outskirts of Holbæk, Denmark, this Henning Larsen-designed Day Care Center emerges from the hillside with an expansive green roof and large south-facing windows. The building, which was designed with energy-efficient solutions from the outset, features a "climate zone" that allows children to play outside all year round, herb and vegetable gardens and flexible indoor spaces to allow for a versatile range of activities.
The architects chose wood and glass for construction of the minimalist, 1,350-square-meter Day Care Center, which provides space for 56 children aged 0-3 in one wing, and 80 children aged 3-6 in the other ,and is joined in the center by administrative offices. The use of large windows and high ceilings allows daylight to flood in through the south-facing windows. This ensures that natural light can access all indoor areas, from the large common spaces to the smaller, intimate areas that can be created using dividers.
Henning Larsen is responsible for the entire master plan of Bernts Have, which is home to around 600 households. The creation of the Day Care Center took away some of the neighborhood’s hilltop green space, and as such the architects were careful to integrate new green space into the structure. As a result the longitudinal structure wedges into the hillside and is topped with a large green roof. A playground planted with fruit trees for shade is located to the south, and an additional outdoor “climate zone” provides protection from the sun, and from more wintery elements, allowing children to play outside all year round “without gloves”. Within this climate zone there are herb and vegetable gardens planted for the older children, and flowerpots for the younger children.
The windows themselves are all double-glazed and have sun filters to minimize heat radiation, while the green roof cools the building in summer and provides insulation in the winter. The naturally ventilated climate zones provide shade against overheating for the adjacent play areas and all enclosed indoor spaces feature heat recovery ventilation. All in all the project follows the standards of Integrated Energy Design. But more than that, it provides the young children of Bernst Have with year-round access to the outdoors, to their community, and to education about nature and food security.