How to design a nursery: guidelines, organization of spaces together with renders and a 3D BIM model ready for you to download
Designing a child care facility that is a high-quality environment and that can contribute to children’s development is a complex task that requires specialized and unique skills. Designers are called to conceive a place that is both safe and welcoming and that stimulate a child’s creativity and at the same time support teachers’ abilities to efficiently do their jobs. The facility provides day care for children aged from 3 months to 3 years and must meet the needs for all age groups.
In this Focus insight, we’ll be taking a look at a project carried out by the BibLus team of architects, with a DWG file and 3D model available for you to download, that can be a useful guide on how to design a kindergarten, including space sizing and standard references.
Nursery floor plan: functional layout
Before analysing the functional and formal distribution of spaces that constitutes a nursery, it is necessary to briefly mention how teaching methodology and educational methods have changed significantly over the years. In fact, the school building is no longer conceived as a container that is isolated from the context where activities are carried out inside a closed classroom, but it becomes a integrating part of the city, a place of social interactions influenced by the surrounding environment.
This innovative concept is fully reflected in the design and compositional methodology.
Spaces are designed to stimulate children’s creativity and sociality. There is no longer just the classroom but, rather, a single integrated space, in which micro-environments intended for diversified activities, have the same importance, and present characteristics of flexibility, functionality, comfort and well-being.
In short, a nursery standard layout includes:
It is a place mainly intended for frontal lessons, but it is also an environment that evolves according to specific needs.
Spaces for group work should foster a positive climate, adapt to various needs; they should have flexible furnishings that are able to create different configurations. Sliding walls allow to involve different classes in the same activity and can “open” the classroom to common spaces.
The laboratory is considered as a “place for discovery” and requires an environment in which the child can move independently, activating processes of observation, exploration and production. From this point of view, the physical space becomes a ‘ready-to-be-equipped space’ that welcomes tools and resources for creating experiences.
Informal and relaxing area
Areas for informal learning and relaxation that are equipped with poufs, comfortable seats or carpets, in order to separate from school activities and informally interact with other people.
It is necessary to provide detached areas equipped with beds and cradles to help children to rest. Sleep and rest, in fact, are fundamental after intense physical activity and play.
Lunch is a central moment in children’s daily activities. The space used as a canteen should be large and provide tables of appropriate size. It should be equipped with a kitchen for preparing meals and services for personnel.
Considering that children from 3 months to 3 years have different needs, it is necessary to provide varied service spaces such as: baby changing tables, toilets (with appropriate size) for children and for teachers, small laundry (with washing machines and dryers), dressing rooms with cabinets and washbasins, infirmary, storage for toys and strollers.
In addition to areas that are entirely dedicated to children, we should consider the ones for nursery administration activities: usually offices and meeting rooms.
How to size the areas of a nursery
After listing the minimum functional environments for a kindergarten planning, let’s see now how to size them correctly and to optimize spaces, depending on the number of children in order to ensure comfort and correct use.
The building normally has a single storey above ground and an outdoor space. Basements can only be used as accessory rooms but are not used for children.
In the E.U. countries, a kindergarten interior space should not have less than a 10 m² net surface for each child and the outdoor spaces should have a minimum surface area of 30 m² per child. For nurseries or micro-nurseries that are located in existing buildings or new residential complexes, a maximum reduction of 10% can be applied to interior spaces and a maximum reduction of 50% to outdoor spaces.
For further details you can check our focus articles on school building projects.
Day care facility plan: a practical example
The guiding idea of the project is to match each nursery function with a detached/separate building, characterized and recognizable for its shape and colour.
The result is a set of elements with simple, elementary geometries that recall children’s toys, and propose the image of a fairy-tale, playful, colourful and children-friendly village.
The entrance to the complex is through a nice orange funnel that directly leads into the main building.
The first green painted building block has a rectangular floor plan and a double-pitched roof, just like the typical house designed by children. Even inside the building, different colours characterize each environment.
The entrance hallway leads to the common areas and classrooms. There are three sections, one for each age group: infants, semi-weaned and weaned children. Each classroom is recognizable by the colours of walls and floors and has a double outward facing. The building’s east façade is oriented towards the common garden at the entrance, and the second one is facing the private patio, exclusively used by children. In this way, even during individual activities that are carried out within a classroom, there is a continuous connection with the outside and with the green. Thus, children are put at ease in a comfortable, fun, open and familiar environment.
Classrooms are facing east to have direct sunlight coming in throughout the morning. Furthermore, every single classroom is conceived as an independent unit where you can find toilets, changing tables and dressing rooms. From the area dedicated to common activities, near the classrooms, you can enter the dormitories.
This building block also resembles the entrance one by shape, but, on the contrary, it is painted with light blue colours. On the opposite side, you can find the canteen, the kitchen and all the spaces intended for kitchen staff.
All activity areas for children are located on the ground floor and are interconnected with each other. The first floor is used for administrative and meeting functions and it can be accessed from the facility entrance with both an internal staircase and an elevator.
In detail, the building has the following areas and relating dimensions, according to the requirements of the current legislation with regard to nurseries with maximum 20 children, for a correct and compliant nursery design:
- free activities 108.69 m²
- special activities (workshop/group spaces) 66.00 m²
- “round a table” activities 32.56 m²/classroom
- dressing rooms and bathrooms for children 10.62 m²/classroom
- storage for strollers 8.35 m²
- infirmery 8.35 m²
- canteen 53.00 m²
- canteen bathroom 5.45 m²
- kitchen 31,10 m²
- kitchen storage area 1.75 m²
- canteen personnel toilet 2.50 m²
- canteen personnel dressing room 5.00 m²
- laundry 8,80 m²
- teacher toilets 9,30 m²
- coat rack area 8.30 m²
- dormitories 95.60 m²
- waiting/meeting room 50.00 m²
- secretary room 15,35 m²
- teachers’ room 15.35 m²
Download the DWG CAD together with the project 3D BIM model
Here you can download the project DWG CAD drawings and a 3D model produced with Edificius, the architectural BIM 3D design software.