Standing proudly amidst a sea of concrete towers, in the Seocho District of South Korea, is a brilliantly playful and colorful structure that beckons the child in everybody. Constructed by local architectural firm OA Lab, the Flower Kindergarten boasts a fabulous interior design, complete with built-in flowerpots and a versatile staircase that doubles as a play and study space.
This five-story building serves as a little haven for children, offering them a chance to explore and interact with nature and the surroundings. What is truly unique about the project is the incredibly clever use of corridors that function as both learning and recreational spaces. Found all the way from ground level to the third floor, these narrow corridors seem to bring kids together, facilitating conversations between them. Speaking about the project, Jungmin Nam, the head of OA Lab, said:
Most of the kindergartens in the city have poor architectural design, reflecting economic values, regulations and small lot sizes in the highly dense city. This project is about providing a dynamic physical environment for education as well as interactions between children and nature.
A wide staircase runs through one side of the kindergarten, connecting stairs, play areas as well as a slide. The structure has a total of seven floors, of which four house classrooms. The basement is made up of two stories, featuring a canteen, facilities for teachers and staff, and also parking spaces. The building’s topmost level has an expansive sheltered roof terrace. The architects added:
The stair itself becomes a playground. The space created below and above the stair is utilized as a children’s play den at children’s scale.
Each of the four main floors is home to three classrooms, which in turn boast whimsical, playful decor. The building’s exterior is covered with Crema Bella, a kind of softly-hued limestone. The structure is lined by square windows of varying sizes, offering glimpses of the kindergarten’s brightly-colored interiors. Nam said:
There are subtle difference between ceiling, wall and window frames, thus the kindergarten’s built environment encourage children’s color sensitivity.
One side of the building’s exterior features stunning built-in flowerpots, around 230 in number, made using glass fiber-reinforced concrete. The children also have access to a sunken courtyard. Additionally, the kindergarten boasts several eco-friendly credentials, including a rainwater harvesting system for irrigating the greenery and a roof-mounted photovoltaic array that harnesses sun’s energy. The developers said:
The building’s unique location and shape will provide a local landmark in the homogeneous neighborhood, where every apartment building looks the same. Children can identify their own classroom from the street.
To know more about the firm and its various projects, head over OA Lab’s official website.