Groenen does not shy away from a challenge. In this project, the options were sometimes limited. “I saw the challenge in that,” she says. “A blank sheet of paper and a big bucket of money don't exactly make the design process easier or more fun. I could now focus on puzzles. There were many legal requirements. For example, how many square feet you must have available per child - both in and outside. We had a zoning plan that we had to take into account. The design is tailored to those frames so that it fits exactly. Finding the connection with the adjacent buildings was also an interesting process. The schools on either side were completely different. One building is rectangular with light brick. The other school is made up of two sloping roofs with bright orange bricks. Are you going to connect with one of those two buildings? In the end, I opted for a completely new design language with a different materialization.”
IKC Children's Center
IKC Children's Center
Sandwiched between two primary schools in is the IKC Children's Center. The building houses a nursery with daycare and after-school care. Architect Monique Groenen designed a transparent building in which the values of tranquility, cleanliness, and regularity predominate.
Three sleek gabled roofs form the characteristic contours of the child center. Elongated glass facades and bamboo cladding form a stark contrast to the brick-built school buildings next door. Ask a child to draw a house, and they will create an archetype gabled roof. With that starting point, Monique Groenen of GLS Architecture set to work on her design for IKC. The childcare center was already temporarily located at the same location as the old building. When the land was bought from the municipality of Tilburg, the board also wanted a permanent new location. The old building was demolished for this. Groenen explains: “The aim was to establish a connection with the two surrounding schools. This is very important because of the philosophy of IKC. Through the large windows, from the roof terrace and indoor playground, there is always a view of the surroundings. In this way, parents can already get acquainted with a future school for their child.”
The new building literally forms the connection between the two schools. Childcare for up to 4 years old is located on the ground floor. Here work was done with subdued pastel shades on the wall. The BSO is located on the ridge of the building. In this concept, three to four classes are taught during school hours, after which the same rooms are used for after-school care. Groenen knew right from the start that the new building had to look vastly different. “The children must have the feeling that they are really going to another place. After all, they've been at school all day. By working with that hood shape, we refer to a basic shape like a child would draw a house. Three linked houses are created. I thought that was an appropriate starting point for the design. A lot of attention has also been paid to the interior concept by interior design agency VormEnZo. Quiet and child-friendly without being too stimulating.”
The childcare organization Kinderstad builds many locations under its own management. Partly because of that experience, they were able to provide Greens with the correct data. Groenen looks back: “Kinderstad knows exactly what they want. Like how you approach the design of the rooms and bedrooms, for example. They set the bar high. We wanted to make the building more spacious. This is reflected on the first floor. The narrow pointed windows and ditto profiles accentuate the height. In addition, the wooden trusses provide a homely feeling. Because the program upstairs was somewhat smaller, we had the space to make another roof terrace. This way, the children can also get some fresh air on this floor.”
There was also a wish to make the building very sustainable. The facades were built from bamboo strips and aluminum frames with triple glazing. One hundred and nine solar panels have been integrated on the roof, and the entire building has underfloor heating. Groenen about the design process: “You want to make the design look as simple as possible. That requires attention. The facade is not only visually determinative but also functional. The aluminum frames from Reynaers Aluminium are completely in line with the sustainable philosophy of KC Grebbe. They are a very reliable partner for our projects. They understand the art of thinking along with the architect. The high windows also create a lot of light. The building now exudes tranquility. That is exactly what is needed in this place.”