Everyone in Germany is talking about the need to provide more pre-school childcare in Germany, and the expectations of such daycare centers have risen. The daycare facility for children "am Linsenberg" day nursery in Kriftel, Hessen, shows what a modern nursery offering children and teachers a varied learning and playing environment can look like. Moreover, the new building stands out for its innovative energy concept.

A general effort by politicians to expand nursery provision has served to raise people’s awareness of the special needs of small children. What daycare centers should most definitely not be is places where children are simply dropped off and deposited. Instead, they need to offer an environment where youngsters receive important stimuli in a community setting and can learn
social behavior.

This is also the concept behind the daycare facilitey for children "am Linsenberg" in Kriftel, which in August 2012 moved to a new building in a highly visible location at the entrance to the town. The old complex, which is located on the opposite side of the street, was declared unsafe in 2002, and modernization did not really make sense.

However, for financial reasons and the difficulties involved in finding a new location, plans for a new building did not start to take shape until 2008. Architecture studio Schneider + Sommer Architekten from Idstein drew up plans for the general contractor HOCHTIEF Solutions, which in 2009 impressed the jury presiding over the public tender

competition. The plan foresaw a cylindrical structure with a stepped two-story design. The developed area was reduced in order to give children and instructors as spacious an outdoor area as possible over 3,400 square meters. Critics, who have described the building as “pompous”, claim that the concept combines two nurseries in a single building.

For aside from the five kindergarten groups, two so-called U3 groups with children aged two to three have also moved into the new premises. Even the street layout meets the specific needs of a daycare center. The approach was realized as a loop for stopping and turning, meaning there are no intersections at the entrance to the building, increasing safety.

The building has a spacious main entrance leading into the adjoining curving lobby naturally illuminated by skylights. All the other rooms are accessed from here. The ground floor houses the separate administration area and the nursery rooms for the under-threes with their own outdoor area.

This location was chosen to allow the youngest children to join in the daily games and fun of the older children aged four to seven, enabling them to gather vital experience in dealing with “big children”. At the same time, the rooms are designated solely for them, offering them a place of refuge.

The nursery walls are painted in bright white, not least of all to show off to their best advantage the objects they have made and pictures they have drawn. That said, the children can make as much mess as they please in the creative room; splashes of paint on the walls are allowed and are part of the concept.

The activity and multi-purpose room can also be reached from the lobby and can be completely opened up or partitioned off using a sliding door. What’s more, the storeroom can be converted into a stage. All the group rooms and the activity and multi-purpose room have direct access to the spacious outdoor area. As the various terraces are roofed, they can also be used in bad weather.

Children and teachers reach the upper story, which is set back and contains four group rooms and two sleeping rooms, via a slightly curving staircase. Roof terraces and balconies enable access to fresh air here too. The new daycare center is also worth a closer look as regards its energy concept. Overall the center meets the standards of a low-energy building. For example, the building’s shell is made of highly insulating components, windows and doors are triple glazed and the floor slabs are fitted with thermal insulation roughly 20 centimeters thick.

Hot water is produced via a solar installation on the roof and during the winter months the triple glazing generates valuable heat, which is stored in the solid wall components. A regulated ventilation system is in place throughout the whole building. Using cross heat exchangers, the ventilation system achieves a minimum of 60 percent heat recovery and makes manual ventilation unnecessary. The installation of LEDs throughout the building spells additional cost savings.

Project information

  1. Client:
    Community Kriftel
  2. Architects:
    schneider + sommer architekten
  3. General contractors:
    HOCHTIEF Solutions AG
  4. Location:
    Kriftel, Deutschland