Who says kindergarten school designs have to be elementary? Vietnamese studio Kientruc O has produced three of the coolest early education schools you’ve ever seen in the span of just a couple years.
Based in Ho Chi Minh City, Kientruc O is a young firm led by both an architect and an industrial designer, with a mission to create architecture “that facilitates and embraces a coherent symbiosis between humans and the environment.” TTC Elite Saigon Kindergarten, TTC Elite Ben Tre Kindergarten, and Chuon Chuon Kim 2 Kindergarten all illustrate this philosophy.
Each building’s appeal to children is obvious upon first glance. The newest school, TTC Elite Saigon, is a fusion of childlike and modernist elements that never feels patronizing. Its monolithic, rounded white mass is punctuated by windows in all sorts of shapes and sizes, each one framed in a vivid color. Enormous pink, orange, and fuchsia blobs seem to float randomly across the facade.
Located close to the city’s railway station, the kindergarten is built upon an existing foundation inherited from the previous building, which gave the architects their starting point but clearly didn’t limit them. The firm says they wanted to provoke a sense of curiosity from the kids as they approach it each day.
They explain: “The windows are apertures that peer the view from inside to outside, stimulating emotion, imagination, and curiosity, establishing a direct relationship between the kids playing inside and the living, ever-changing external environment. Through the openings, light runs along the colored windowsill, highlighting and washing over the interior space with its dyed color, reciting an enchanted and fairytale-like atmosphere.”
TTC Elite Ben Tre, completed in 2017, aims for a peaceful atmosphere emphasizing the mild, pleasant tropical climate and interaction with nature. The architects implemented principles from traditional Vietnamese architectural language, including an open plan, but the coolest part is the rounded, grassy roof that creates an elevated playground.
“In its presence, the hill is the cornerstone that helped found the architectural identity of the school. It was conceived as a place that juggles the senses and tickles the curiosity inside each kid, leaving them wondering and anticipating of what excitement is awaiting them beyond the hill.”
Chuon Chuon Kim 2 Kindergarten, located in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2, looks only slightly more conventional than the others thanks to its brick facade. But there’s nothing ordinary about it, particularly when it comes to the protruding, telescope-like volumes on top and the window openings shaped like archetypal gabled houses.
“Like a giant LEGO building, the kindergarten is constructed entirely in bare brick forming patterns and openings that are playful to the eyes, conveying a unique aesthetic value and promoting natural ventilation. Classrooms and utility rooms are organized around a playful core. Each floor is arranged in an alternating pattern to enhance vertical interaction, encourage children to be more receptive to their surroundings, and stimulate their inner creativity.”
Don’t they make you wish all schools were so thoughtfully designed?
Of course, the firm didn’t necessarily set out to be a designer of kindergartens. Their other work includes homes, offices, and restaurants that are no less creative than their school designs. See it all at KientrucO.com.