Architecture office Jure Kotnik is the author of this playful kindergarten Kekec in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The new kindergarten extension, a prefab construction made of wood of local origin, grows out of the south side of the existing building and stretches into the garden, adding an additional 130m2 of playroom surfaces to the original volume of a typical Slovene kindergarten from the mid 1980s.
The main design concept derives from the existing kindergarten’s lack of play equipment. The new façade eliminates this weakness by offering a play element along all three exterior walls: it consists of dark brown roughcast and timber slats revolving around their vertical axe. The slats are the color of natural wood on one side but painted into nine different bright colors on the other side.
The toy slats offer shade for the windows, as well as provide for children’s play and learning: as the children manipulate the colorful wooden planks they get to know different colors, experience wood as a natural material and constantly change the appearance of their kindergarten, all at the same time. Children rarely get the opportunity to connect with their kindergarten in such a way, to play with it and change the way it looks, as is the case with Kekec.
Playrooms are compact but allow for the furniture to be arranged in various formations. Daylight floods the interior from three sides as well as from the roof. Located between the two playrooms, washrooms have large glass openings, which visually increase their volume as well as ease tutor supervision.
Wardrobes in the narrow changing room are made from pure natural wood and have pull-out boxes for shoes in all the colours of the façade, which also serve as a bench, hence functioning as a space saver. Although modest in size, Kekec shows a clear example how a problem solving architecture can supplement and enrich anonymous existing structures within the very limited budget.