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The clever design features of this new eco-building maximise its position within surrounding community gardens. Montpelier Community Nursery, located in London’s Old Kentish town, was designed for Camden Community Nurseries by AY Architects, the founding members of whom are both former Montpelier parents. Sitting on the same location of the original nursery (a “temporary” pre-fabricated building that stood for 30 years), the design features promote the clear links with nature that this green space offers whilst providing the sustainable credentials required by the client.
The timber construction and thoughtful design enabled low carbon output, resulting in minimal operational costs. Roof windows are orientated north-south to maximise natural light, and large window walls also bring daylight to the interior. The north-west facing window wall opens to the safe play area, creating an unbroken path to the garden environment that defines the heart of the nursery’s learning experience.
A sedum roof tops the ebony stained Siberian Larch clad walls of the exterior, accentuating the link to the surrounding woodland. Requiring a more robust skin for the public face of the structure, AY Architects utilised Russwood’s SILA decking as timber cladding, which was then continued throughout the exterior.
AY’s Anthony Boulanger said, “We were very keen to use a dark stained vertical boarding for the exterior of the building to give it a more discrete presence in the park setting. This treatment is similar in character to the trunks of the surrounding trees. We specified Russwood SILA decking due to its robustness when compared to more traditional timber cladding products, which was desirable due to its relationship to the public gardens.”
The care and consideration evident in the design of this child-centric space has been recognised by RIBA, winning both the Regional and National Awards in 2013. It went on to win the Stephen Lawrence Prize 2013, with the judges recognising that “the selection of materials was a key part of the success.”
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