El Tiller Kindergarten School in Bellaterra, Spain

Looking for early education environment & architecture inspiration? In this article, we’ll look at this project to see how it aligns with early education philosophy, how the design facilitates learning, the activities that would suit these spaces and we’ll look at how you can use elements of the design as inspiration for your own service.

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Brief Overview of the Project

The El Tiller Waldorf-Steiner School in Bellaterra, Spain, features a unique kindergarten designed by architects Eduard Balcells, Ignasi Rius, and Daniel Tigges. This wood-clad concrete kindergarten is one of six structures that are arranged like a small village around a central “rambla” (a term for a promenade or high street). The kindergarten building is clad entirely in prefabricated panels made of two layers of pine, both inside and out, with insulation in between. Over time, the external wood will turn silvery grey due to temperature treatment.

Alignment with Montessori, Steiner, or Reggio Principles

The design of this kindergarten aligns with Waldorf-Steiner principles, which emphasize fostering children’s creativity and imagination while minimizing testing and exams. The school’s layout and design focus on the journey into the classrooms and the evolving atmosphere and views as children progress through their education.

How the Design Facilitates Learning

  1. Space Utilization: The kindergarten’s concrete structure has been left exposed, and deep wooden window reveals offer space for seating and storage. This design eliminates the need for columns, especially in the multipurpose hall on the ground floor.
  2. Layout: The kindergarten is spread over two levels, with a large hall and administrative spaces on the ground floor and classrooms above. Small bridges connect the upper level to a playground, and the building faces the campus’s central street on the west side.
  3. Journey-Oriented Design: The design emphasizes the journey into the classrooms, with changes in atmosphere and views as children move through the school. This layout minimizes internal circulation, focusing on the progression into classrooms.

How the Design Helps Teachers Create Inspiring Lessons

The design offers varied light qualities in classrooms, both in intensity and color, enhancing the learning experience. The absence of internal corridors and the gradual exterior spatial sequence (from rambla to courtyard, porch, reception hall, and then classroom) provide a unique setting for teachers to craft lessons that align with the spatial experience.

Activities and Lessons Suited for This Space

  1. Nature Observation: Given the wood-clad design and connection to the outdoors, lessons on nature, seasons, and environmental science would be apt.
  2. Spatial Awareness Activities: The unique layout can be used to teach children about spatial awareness, directions, and mapping.
  3. Art and Creativity: The varying light qualities in classrooms can inspire art lessons based on light, shadow, and color.

How Other Teachers Can Use Elements of This Design

  1. Incorporate Natural Materials: Using wood or other natural materials can create a warm and welcoming environment conducive to learning.
  2. Maximize Natural Light: Designing spaces with ample windows and varied light qualities can enhance the learning experience.
  3. Open Layouts: Minimizing internal corridors and focusing on open, interconnected spaces can foster a sense of community and collaborative learning.
  4. Connect with the Outdoors: Incorporating outdoor spaces, like courtyards or playgrounds, directly connected to classrooms can provide opportunities for outdoor learning and play.

In conclusion, the El Tiller Kindergarten’s design is a testament to how architecture can align with educational principles to create spaces that foster creativity, imagination, and holistic learning.



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