No Architects: Redevelopment of the Malvina nursery in Karlin
Floornature presents another recent interior redevelopment project entrusted to No Architects of Prague. Also in the capital, we looked at the design of an apartment in Dejvice some time ago, offering an unusual point of view on the transformation of an interior with an unfortunate layout. The founders of No Architects, Daniela Baráčková and Jakub Filip Novak, succeeded in reestablishing unity and communication in a series of isolated functions, changing the circulation in the apartment.
The Malvina nursery is a 120 square meter space on one level in a multiservice building in Karlin, in Prague 8, northeast of downtown. It is located in a modern district, a former industrial area on the outskirts of the city which is now lively all day long and offers a variety of entertainment options. The nursery, for children from 9 months to 2 years old, is located in a large office space accessible from the ground floor by a spiral staircase. Beyond the entrance to the nursery at the top of the stairs, an anonymous piece marked the passage of toddlers from parental care to that of teachers. Access to a large marked main open space the point to say goodbye, separated simply by a door. Beyond that, a single room, too big for children who have just learned to walk, and without any form of shelter, containing only a few movable pieces of furniture, offered many colorful toys but no precise functional identification, apart from the kitchen and the bathrooms.
What may appear to adults as a natural process of approaching a destination represents, for such small children, a series of difficulties resulting in separation from their families. In view of this, No Architects focused their attention on visual and spatial perception of the nursery, the feeling of welcome and belonging that can be conveyed by a good architecture, by designing all the functions of the point of view of children.
First of all, all the spaces in the nursery were given a precise purpose, by assigning them particular furniture, specific colors and graphics recognizable even by small children. A wall was knocked down to expand the area in which they bid their parents farewell, creating personalized lockers and storage spaces for each child to have their own personal space; at the same time, the architects provide the parents who accompany them to the crèche with a special staircase construction on which to place children to dress and undress them. Because, as all parents know, bending down to dress and undress little children several times a day, while juggling bags and jackets, is not the easiest thing in the world: no architect takes a simple measurement to make this procedure more convenient, and children can choose the correct step for their height, make the procedure a game.
Much attention was paid to the farewell time, a complicated and difficult time for everyone involved. By opening a big window curiously shaped on the main hall, children can still see their parents outside the room while the teachers carry them inside, and their parents have time to give them a final kiss. Another egg-shaped window allows parents to peek into the nap area when they pick up their kids on the way out.
The few interior walls were knocked down and replaced by partitions which form space rather than subdividing it, so that it continues to be perceived as a single space even if each function has a specific area of its own. Napping children are no longer isolated in a closed room, but lie behind a rounded wall with two panes to ensure that it is visible at all times from anywhere in the nursery. In the southwest corner is a soft play area, with ramps and a few steps on which children can practice their motor skills, as well as anthropomorphic niches and small hiding places to multiply and differentiate their activities. The furnishings are designed according to the available space, to resemble a structural part of the space rather than being juxtaposed with it, so that children can enjoy a more immersive experience in the play and learning area.
The kitchen, once an enclosed space accessible to adults only, has been moved to the middle of the space, and an island built to the scale of a child transforms it into a spatial fulcrum. Complex in shape, with compartments that children can enter without being able to reach dangerous kitchen utensils, the island stimulates and responds to children’s natural curiosity for food. A lower area allows them to access the snacks prepared for them by them selves, while a window allows teachers to keep an eye on children using the toilet behind the kitchen wall.
The lunch tables are set on one side, built at different heights that can be freely combined to adapt them as the children grow older while still allowing them to form small groups or sit together.
The choice of wood, birch plywood or MDF, and a judicious choice of colors allow the nursery to welcome children with its own identity: lamps, coverings and furniture are all tailor-made down to the smallest detail. The functions are less separated and more coordinated, allowing teachers to achieve better control and supervision of children. Two bulky structural pillars were covered with timber and turned into playful totem poles or children’s shelters only, complementing this highly stimulating environment.
Architects: no architects
Author Jakub Filip Novák, Daniela Baráčková
Collaborators: Barbora Jelínek, Kristýna Plischková
Location: Křižíkova 159/56, Prague 8 – Karlín (Czech Republic)
Project year: 2020
Completion year: 2021
Built area: 120 m²
Gross area: 130 m²
Useful surface: 120 m²
Plot size: 500 m²
Client: MALVÍNA – kindergarten art school
PVC flooring, furniture – colored MDF, birch plywood, Corian
Photographer: Studio Flusser, [email protected], www.studioflusser.com