From the architect:
A holistic childcare centre based in Alberta, Canada, this project serves as the second Bambini facility designed solely by Studio Anva's Alyssa Anselmo.
Alyssa also works at her studio by herself doing everything from start to finish including the architectural photography afterwards. In this project she learned how to build a dream space for children to absolutely thrive in, a space that would be remembered well into their adulthood. The owner approached her with a Reggio Emilia based philosophy, explaining that this space needed to encompass high ceilings, loads of natural lighting, light materials and an emphasis on biophilic design.
She began with an open concept, separated only by 8 single classrooms that had their own “pony swing doors” built in so that children were always interacting with the full space. The total capacity is for 153 children, separated by all age groups between 12 months - 12 years. The entrance was the first focal point where she wanted to embody a calmness that didn’t naturally exist in daycare.
This lobby entailed a circular office (featured with gradient fluted tiles), and two hallways that led directly into the “piazza” which is a sort of indoor courtyard for children to focus on mindfulness/yoga. This is where she incorporated a 12 foot tall Ficus Benjamina tree, a giant 8 foot long cloud, and a sunken conversation pit. This piazza is surrounded by over 1000 birch wooden slats that are separated with white, negative space. There are also 2 skylights in this room, and several rice paper shades of all different sizes, hung at different heights to give a sort of “grand, magical” perspective to the children.
The conversation pit is a moment for children to breathe. They can lay under the cloud (which also lights up) and just simply dream. The only expectation for them is to let their minds wander far away into whatever land they choose to make up. They can also sit along the steps with a book, while also glancing at their classmates in the playground just outside of the 6 large glass windows. This cloud was vital in this design as it creates a moment between child and object that can potentially last forever.
Stones and woods are living, breathing materials that change according to environmental factors and lighting. These age overtime, changing the way materials interact with the space, thus having an impact on the way children grow within this environment. For this reason, Alyssa chose to work with concrete as a base, and birch plywood panelling along the wall to create that warmth that is reflected by the natural sunlight filtering the daycare throughout the day. Every little detail was considered in the making of this space, especially the material specifics.
The “white” walls are actually a cream colour which blends with the birch, and then there is a soft green painted on some of the walls to balance the vegetation throughout the space - again providing that warmth that moves away from a stark white institutional feel. The concrete floor was something that she specially designed to contribute to the warmth, by adding a beige earthy colour to the mix in order to avoid a natural, cold industrial grey floor. She also heavily grinded the material to showcase a lot of aggregate to make it feel almost as if you are on a sandy beach, which surrounds the new neighbourhood that this daycare belongs to.
The daycare also features an “Art Atelier” specifically for children to get creative with various craft materials. This room features 3 large arched windows (featured in photos) that children can walk by and see what their friends are making. This room also has over 20 plants hanging at different heights, along with another skylight and a wash basin.
Months of work went into studying the ergonomics required to make children’s lives easier. This is where she incorporated mini kitchens inside each classroom that have two sinks installed at different heights - one for the teacher, one for the child. Each classroom also has its own bathroom behind an arched door with a circular glass window. This generates a lot of ease for both the teacher and child to not have to leave the classroom. These doors provide a playfulness that is very subtle, yet completely transforms the lines in the space - immediately the space feels softer.
Alyssa could write about the details and thought that she put into this building and how it changed her life, she could also write about the months that she spent trying to get her concept across what the contractors and developers are used to (in an oil province like Alberta), or getting this building built within 3 months during peak covid, but that would require an essay. Overall, she feels that this design was a huge honour to call her "very own project", something that 5 years ago she could have never even dreamed of.