Halvorsen Architects was recently granted planning permission to enlarge Happy Days nursery near Edinburgh, for a design that reinforces the pre-school facility’s green ethos.
The client, Genesis, which owns and operates several nurseries across Scotland’s central belt, chose Halvorsen Architects after seeing our timber building projects with local primary schools. Genesis promotes a healthy lifestyle for children with plenty of outdoor activities – for example the children collect eggs from Happy Days’ chickens and harvest fruit and veg from the nursery’s garden – and has achieved Green Flag Status in the Eco-Schools Programme. This fits in well with
Halvorsen Architects expertise of environmentally-friendly buildings.
We are designing a new dining room, an arts & crafts room and a second toddler room that will be used as a performance space and a venue for scientific experiments. The latter room will open out onto a small grass amphitheatre through a fully-glazed, South-facing wall. The dining room also overlooks the garden and will contain a new pizza and bread oven enabling children to bake bread and pizzas.
We considered several designs that had a strong connection to the outside. In the end Genesis asked Halvorsen Architects to proceed with a design that is orthogonal on the outside, but whose more organic interior incorporates Hobbit-style breakout spaces, tree-like columns and a bridge link. Windows will be either full height in the larger spaces or small and at a child’s height. The Scandinavian themed environment will include ‘living’ stone walls on which plants will grow and could become the herb garden.
Christina Walters, director of Happy Days, said: “Gail’s progressive, energetic and passionate approach throughout the design and consultation process has been exceptional. Listening intently to our needs, Gail has created incredibly rich and inspiring learning areas within her designs, which will enhance the lives of the children and families who use our setting for many years to come.”
The new buildings will be built predominantly of natural materials, such as wood-fibre insulation, sandstone rain screen, timber rain screen and lime plaster. These breathable materials will regulate the humidity, reduce condensation and improve the internal air quality. It has been proven that the healthy environment created using natural materials makes children more relaxed and improves their concentration levels (School without stress). Rainwater will be harvested in butts for the children to use for watering plants.
Midlothian Council gave the new building planning and listed building consent on December 2015 and construction is expected to start in late spring. “We are eager and enthusiastic to finalise the design stage and embark upon the build!“ said Walters.