Appologies and Bernts Have Daycare Center

Wow, it has been a long time since I posted.  Grad school is harder than I was expecting, and takes up more of my time than I would have thought.  While my undergrad was easy enough to breeze through and still have plenty of time to update the old blog at least once a month, Penn is considerably more demanding.  Also, I wish at this point that I would have spent more time on my long Christmas break working on the blog, but I mostly spent it loafing about watching Mythbusters back at home in Pittsburgh.  But now I am back in Philadelphia, it is the last day of break before classes, and I have finally taken the initiative to work on the blog again.  Let’s hope I can get at least a few posts in here before Workshop kicks my butt later this semester, as I have been assured it will.

I actually found this building a few months ago, but it has taken me forever to actually write about it, and after this post is done I will finally be able to close those two tabs on my Firefox.  This is Elverhøj, the daycare center and kindergarten at Bernts Have, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Holbæk, Denmark, by Henning Larsen Architects.  It is comprised of the nursery in the southern wing and kindergarten in the northern wing, with administrative offices linking them.  It bursts out of the hilly terrain to the South and West, opening towards a small lake, the rest of the city, and the sun.

There are a lot of things I really like about this building.  It is very well integrated into its landscape, both in how it juts out of the hillside, how its green roof helps it blend in, and how the play areas are landscaped.

The landscaping has a mix of more manicured and more natural areas mixed in with the play spaces and hills to provide a wide variety of play and teaching opportunities for the children.  The landscaping doesn’t end outside the building, but is integrated within it as well.

Corridors in the areas between the south-facing windows and the inner rooms provide both a temperature buffer and added greenery, and are heated in Spring and Fall, providing the kids with a play place that is neither inside nor outside.  The plan shows how the layout of the building provides some sustainable solutions.

keep in mind that the section between the wings runs north-south, so north is not up in the picture above, but slightly up and far to the left (I spent a lot of time picking up my laptop and turning it around to figure that out, and I’m hoping I wasn’t the only person confused by this).  What this does is it allows the two long, narrow wings to get light and heat that they wouldn’t both get if they were right next to each other in a more blockey structure.  In the morning, there is even light in the administrative section.  The playground to the south is very sunny all day and all year round.  In cold climates like Denmark, it is important to use the sun to the greatest extent possible to achieve sustainability and minimize heating and lighting costs.  The green roof also provides greater insulation, while providing space for vegetation.

Another thing that I like about this structure is the fact that there is a railing, which you can see in the image above and at top.  I’m not sure why it doesn’t extend all the way to the edges of the roof, because there’s plenty of play area there and it almost tempts the more adventurous kids to hop the fence.  Maybe there were considerations about noise that were involved, I don’t know.  But it does allow for at least part of the roof to be used as a play area, just as any grassy area on the ground would be used.  The small detail of this railing is something that, at least here at Penn, seems to be left out of architectural designs.  I have seen mid-rise buildings designed with exterior facing entrances with no railings.  If they were to be built, it would be a matter of minutes before balls, pets and children were flying off the higher stories into traffic.  While railings aren’t sexy or artistic, they are sensible, and it is important to find good ways to integrate them.


About Dave Munson
This blog is about architecture, cities, and myself.

One Response to Appologies and Bernts Have Daycare Center

  1. TamDiego says:

    What a cool review – I love how your blog expands the horizons of things I normally wouldnt think about. Thanks and keep it up! PS Mythbusters is awesome. ~Tammy

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