client Genesis (J&T) Ltd (Trading as Happy Days Nurseries)
engineers Gordon Eadie and Iain Thew
contract value £150,000
area 48 sq. m. new build, 30 sq. m. refurbishment
This is the first phase of the expansion of Happy Days pre-school nursery in Dalkeith, Midlothian. This phase includes a dining room, craft room and toilets.
The nursery had already won many awards for sustainable learning and outdoor activities, which led Halvorsen Architects to express the structure in as natural and fun way as possible, using branched, whole-tree construction. All materials were locally sourced, with structural oak and larch coming from natural woodland in the Scottish Borders. The trees were selected while growing, felled and cut to length, with their bark intact. For more information about this innovative structure read the post: Whole tree structure – first in UK?
The dining room, which overlooks the garden, has a fully-glazed, south-facing wall and ‘living’ stone walls on which plants will grow. It include a pizza oven for the children, low-level windows, a climbing wall — incorporated into the stone wall — and a slide built into the dining terrace.
The new building was built using predominantly natural materials, including wood-fibre insulation, sandstone, larch cladding, lime plaster and natural paint. These are all breathable, which regulates humidity, reduces condensation and improves internal air quality, leading to a healthy learning environment.