There are few more enchanting and exciting places for a child to play than out in a garden. The Montpelier Community Nursery in Camden, England lets children move easily from the daycare into the great outdoors. With a design by London-based AY Architects, the nursery is constructed completely from timber. In order to provide affordable care for children ages two to five, the architects incorporate a number of features that allow it to be inexpensive and easy to run, while maintaining the character of the existing garden.
The original structure was built in 1983 and only meant to last for 15 years. The team at AY Architects worked closely with community members to demolish and recreate the nursery. They were able to secure a Capital Grant in 2009 in order to fund the project. The entire footprint increased from 90-132 square meters, accommodating 24 nursery spaces.
The Montpelier Community Nursery consists of cross-laminated timber panels with an exposed whitewash finish. Ebony-stained FSC- Siberian larch decking creates a durable skin for the exterior. Three strip windows let ample amounts of sunlight enter the building, and the flexible playspace opens out to the gardens which feature a cluster of mature trees. Glue-laminated timber columns echo the verticality of the suburban forest, and a north-facing roof window introduces fresh air from the outside. The south wall of the nursery hosts a bench that facilitates community interaction with the daycare while still keeping the children safe and secure.
The nursery is an energy-efficient dwelling, and boats a low carbon footprint in both its construction and continual operation. The roof’s finish is made from a sedum mix that helps to retain water and enhance the biodiversity of the area. Montpelier has won both a RIBA London Regional Award 2013 and an RIBA National Award 2013. Their success and recognition showcase how education and care are greatly complemented by sustainable, green design.
Images via AY Architects