The kindergarten in Bohinjska Bistrica is located on the outskirts of the largest settlement in the Bohinj Valley, Slovenia. It is situated on the urban limit, next to the Dr. Janez Mencinger primary school building and the Church of St. Nicholas.
The new building and its surroundings were designed in response to the programmatic and spatial challenge of providing spaces for children’s social interaction and free play, while allowing them to actively admire, explore and experience their local environment. The project is organized around a succession of interconnected technical cores, while being conceived as a continuous playground that integrates indoor and outdoor spaces.
The new building extends the existing edge of Bohinjska Bistrica, taking into account the geometric characteristics and orientation of the plot, its surroundings and the scale of the territory. It emphasizes horizontality through the implementation of three large, pitched roofs, the result of fragmenting the program into three distinct linear volumes. As a result, the exterior spaces are simultaneously defined and delimited: on the one hand, an open interior plaza that functions as the main entrance and, on the other, three playground areas connected to one other and protected from the road accesses.
The buildings gradually become smaller in size. The largest two-story volume is located to the west, close to the city and similar in scale and proportion to the nearby school. The complex then decreases in size to the east, reaching its closest proximity to nature and the rural environment at the eastern end, which opens fully onto the landscape. This interaction between the three buildings establishes a harmonious dialogue between local culture, the territorial scale, and the children’s need for a safe and nurturing environment. The construction takes the local tradition of timber construction as an example, with the Slovenian hayrack as its most representative structure. In all three buildings, the same strategy is followed: three high longitudinal beams collaborate with structural framing sections to support the roof. The façade cladding in larch provides a high natural resistance to decay.
The core organizational element of the interior space is based on the traditional Slovenian gank. This covered and protected linear space, in permanent relation to the outside, acts as the backbone of the entire project. This versatile circulation system not only links the kindergarten spaces together, but also allows for different configurations, by means of closing and opening elements of the classrooms and other spaces, maintaining their simultaneous and flexible use throughout the site. As a result, the building is bright and the users, including children, educators, and kitchen staff, are more aware of each other’s presence.
Each of the three buildings in the complex has a different purpose. The first two mainly house service areas and classrooms, while the third and smaller building is conceived as a multi-purpose space for the local community. This multifunctional structure is intended to be a meeting place, facilitating a variety of activities, cultural events, and social engagements. By serving as a focal point for the local community, this essential building establishes a vital connection between the entire project and the surrounding village, fostering a new collective space for the area’s residents.