Architecture should always strive to create ruptures in our perceptual framework of reference. Shapes, transitions and materials that disrupt our categorical glance will always heighten our awareness of these elements and bring back a sense of wonder to perception. It is a matter of opening up for instances of disclosure, epiphany and natural belonging in an otherwise largely standardized mode of experiencing.
Reiulf Ramstad Architects
Reiulf Ramstad Architects has been involved in designing a new kindergarten for Fagerborg Congregation in central Oslo. The kindergarten offers 2 units for children between 1-3 years old and 2 units for children between 3-6 years old. Gross building area is around 1200m2.
There are many cultural heritage guidelines to be considered in the project site. The area is characterised by residential buildings from 1900-1950. As a requirement from the local authority, the kindergarten is to have a contemporary expression. With its location in the middle of a small city park, the kindergarten has an outdoor area that is protected like an enclosed garden. The planning solution enables the 4 kindergarten units to function both independently and together as required. All units share a common area and a kitchen in the heart of the building. Administration is placed on the upper floor separate from children areas.
Process / Fagerborg congregation committed Reiulf Ramstad Architects to develop and design a brand new nursery at Fagerborg in central Oslo. An existing nursery and a park of both poor and inappropriate standard was sanitized to make room for the newly completed Fagerborg Kindergarten. The new kindergarten comprises a total of four units – two of which are small units. The project has a total area of 1200 m2. The architect has been involved from the initial planning and followed the process from programming to final construction and completion. Reiulf Ramstad Architects has designed both the building and the outdoor facility area.
Kindergartens are all too often made up by a basic or random and often very poor architectural design. The Fagerborg Project did not want to be a part of this trend but rather give the kindergarten an important priority in order to develop a building with a stimulating environment for the next generation.
Goal / In nature, top seeds needs the best soil for the best growth conditions to flourish. This is the same for humans. Children are the citizens of “tomorrow” and the resources of the future and it is important that this group have stimulating and developing physical limits in their everyday sphere. Therefore, the objective of the program- agreed upon by both the client and the architect – was to create a nursery that would have a rich architectural register and become a house of character to encourage the development of character – a meaningful architectural framework for children’s important first phase of the formation and development of the Childs experience outside the family.
The project has high expectations and demanding terms, the following strategies have been used:
- Site adaption / There are several cultural heritage guidelines to consider at the site. The area is characterized by architecture from the first half of the 1900s with Fagerborg school and city dwellings. There has been a requirement that the project should take into account the existing environment and have a qualitative design. The context is also characterized by the fact that the project is located in a local park, providing a private and garden-like character. In contrast to the surrounding historic brick buildings, the kindergarten is done with a wooden cladding of larch heartwood. The facades have thus both in form and design an organic expression and integrate the kindergarten as part of the park while the brick quarters surround it all.
- Overall area / The plot have a limited area. Emphasis is made on developing the site so that there is a close dialogue between the outdoor area and the building mass. The building is orientated north-south towards the east side of the plot, while the western side of the site is kept as outdoor area. Existing trees are preserved and there is also a new small shed on the northern side. Together this creates a favourable microclimate for the outdoor area. The outdoors is formed with a varied play area for the children.
- Architectural design / The building have a distinct horizontal oriented form with elements of vertical variations. This creates a complex roof with height variations. The exterior walls and ceilings of the kindergarten are uniformly dressed with untreated heartwood of larch. This is because many people look down on the building’s roof and it constitutes the building’s fifth façade. The contrast between the different surface structures of glass and wood is also a prominent feature. There are four types of window openings appropriate to children’s dimensions. This creates a variety of light modulation in the different rooms. The interior rooms have a variation of ceiling heights, from low single stories to generous double heights. The transition between inside and outside is softened by omitting mouldings around doors and windows. Diagonal lines around doors invite in and open onto a playground and garden. The interior is made of solid pine panel in contrast with bright colours and some details in laser cut wood.
- Functionality and realistic economy / The kindergarten’s master plan solution are designed for the four units to function both separately and together. The units share common areas and kitchens in the heart of the building. Administration together with the arts and crafts room is located in the building’s upper level. The project had a tight budget, and the builder, architect, and contractor have worked closely together to arrive at a consistent overall result.
- Environmental and energy solutions / An emphasis have been made to place the building so that there is a good daylight factor in the house while the facades have minimum sun exposure to the south. The building has a low gross net factor. The building is entirely connected to district heating as an actively selected mitigation. In combination with extensive use of the limited window openings with low-E glazing, and insulation solutions in walls, floors, and ceilings achieved a very good energy resolution. The main materials used, is wood, a material that is recyclable and bind CO2.
+ Project credits / data
Project: Fagerborg Kindergarden
Location: Fagerborg, Oslo, Norway
Program: Educational | Kindergarten
Client: Fagerborg Congregation
Size: 1200 m2
Commission type: Direct commission (2003)
Credits: Reiulf Ramstad Architects + Thomas Bjørnflaten/NYE BILDER
+ About Reiulf Ramstad Architects
Reiulf Ramstad established RRA in 1995 in order to create an architectural practice that would turn conceptual research and the analysis of practical and theoretical issues into driving forces of design. The office has earned a reputation for innovative architecture, displaying a deep understanding of the uniqueness of every site and program and rejecting standardized solutions. RRA has created award-winning designs in all kinds of environments, from urban densities to remote unpopulated areas. Yet, the specific profile of the practice relies on a particular sensitivity to natural landscapes. Time and again RRA has displayed the rare ability to create the kind of unequivocal architecture that comes to be experienced as iconic.
Whatever is iconic must be lucid, whatever is lucid must be simple, and whatever is simple must be bold.
Clear thinking, bold design.
The RRA philosophy is to create contemporary architecture characterized by clarity of thought. Clarity depends on two things: analysis and decisiveness. The first is a matter of method, the second one of mind-set. When a sensitive interpretation of a location yields a set of essential characters, this opens up for creative decisiveness.
With the uniqueness of every site and context as our point of departure we employ a distinct and limited architectural palette characterized by a strong focus on materials and the sense of a location’s individual spatiality. Each project becomes a unique departure when highly individual design emerges from a set of clearly defined and controlled elements. RRA’s architecture is distinguished by innovative tectonic forms that interpret the spatial continuity between exterior and interior landscapes in new ways. This is underscored by choices of material and structural solutions that purposely express the possibilities and natural qualities of these specific materials.