This new kindergarten needed to provide excellent teaching facilities in line with UK’s EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) standards in Astana, Kazakhstan; the second coldest capital city in the world after Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The facility included safe sheltered play areas for infant pupils to retreat from frequent high winds, the effects of which are felt particularly strongly on the site. It was crucial to stakeholders that the building had a strong visual identity to juxtapose with the existing award-winning campus; a modernist take on Haileybury in the UK, with a small central tree-lined quad and amphitheatre, surrounded by classroom blocks, and indoor play areas.
We were commissioned to undertake the design of a new kindergarten within the grounds of the existing secondary school campus. User comfort was of primary importance so scale, colour, thermal and acoustic factors were all taken into consideration from the outset.
We were also required to provide an alternative design proposal to push the brief in terms of design, sustainability and efficiency. Delivery of designs was made particularly challenging due to the school’s location in Central Asia, on Kazakhstan’s spacious steppe landscape.
- Our team’s design broke the building into four main elements – Learning, Play, Gatherings, and Administration:
- Learning facilities were compacted into an efficient cluster arrangement, divided by sliding partitions to unify these spaces when required.
- A winter garden provides sheltered active play during long periods of extreme weather.
- The two main gathering spaces help create a social concentration of activity; and minimise heat loss.
Wide climate fluctuations (temperatures vary from -40⁰C to 30⁰C) in the region meant we were required to accommodate both severe winters and hot summers. Use of specialist Sefaira Performance analysis software helped us ensure the right environmental choices were made.
Due to the varying temperatures experienced in Astana throughout the year, the facility was required to house all of the normally required external play spaces for a facility of this size indoors, for use throughout the long winter.