Children are uniquely sensitive to their surrounding environment, so spaces designed for them should be as healthy and bright as possible. The new Neufeld an der Leitha Kindergarten in Burgenland, Austria showcases how new ideas for school design and sustainability go hand in hand. SOLID Architecture won the design competition with a clever concept that breaks a large interior into discreet spaces that connect through a series of corridor and openings. The rooms also benefit from ceilings dotted with skylights that create a bright and cheery environment.
The design is focused on creating an active learning environment where groups can collect or break up within the spaces without being cut off. The interior rooms provide a quiet learning place surrounded by public rooms. The building is placed with the long axes facing west and east, creating an elongated interior/exterior transition to the south.
The best part of the design is the southern face of the school, which has multiple entrances along the stepped back rooms to facilitate connectivity to the outdoors. Tall, operable windows bring daylight and fresh air into the spaces. The exterior is covered in a wooden louvered pergola which protects the glass and the play area from the sun while binding the stepped room sections together. Natural light is another central binding element in the school, which features a copious number of drop-down skylights integrated into the ceiling, adding an unusually lively ambience to the space.
Underground earthtube air intakes provide fresh pre-tempered air, which is heated or cooled before entering the building. The entire school has an underfloor heating system to keep the kids’ toes toasty on winter days. Hot water is provided by an efficient water-to-water heat pump. Rain is captured and reused as well, helping the school to truly integrate into its site.