Inspiring Architecture for Childcare Facilities

Particularly in their first few years, children need space to develop freely, to move and play; they need inspiring learning areas for creative ideas. Whether in a crèche, kindergarten or at school; child-friendly architecture promotes youngsters’ healthy development. Naturally compliance with safety regulations in particular is imperative. With the stainless steel cable mesh X-TEND, Carl Stahl Architecture accomplishes this balancing act between the requirements of design and the technical safety requirements of childcare center architecture.

Today, childcare centers and kindergartens are more than just childcare facilities. They are part of the education system and are thus making new demands on authorities, educators and kindergarten teachers, concepts and not least the environment. Because the well-thought-out, child-friendly design of rooms and spaces encourages children’s natural inquisitiveness and curiosity, and gives them the opportunity to enjoy movement and free playing.

At the same time, it is essential that the environment offers sufficient safety to protect the little ones when they are running around and climbing. That means childcare center architecture is facing two challenges at the same time. With the stainless-steel cable mesh X-TEND from Carl Stahl Architecture, the combination of aesthetics and practicality works, resulting in ideal spaces for early childhood education and development. Virtually invisible and yet stable, X-TEND reliably protects youngsters in all kinds of situations – without restricting either their freedom of movement or their imagination. As a carrier structure for decorations, works of art and lighting, it also provides space for creative design.

Delicate and transparent in appearance, sturdy and durable in quality, the stainless steel cable mesh is used in a large number of different areas. Whether as fall protection, balustrade infill or protective mesh, whether reserved in appearance or as a deliberate design element in vital colors: X-TEND unites the static advantages of cable with the flexible structure of a mesh. X-TEND has been awarded the general certification by the DIBT (German Institute for Construction Engineering, Berlin).

The stainless-steel cable mesh thus offers a reliable basis for the planning of fall protection in new buildings and also provides a number of possibilities for realizing safety-relevant measures in the renovation and refurbishment of existing institutions.

Kirchhaldenschule complex, Stuttgart, Germany: optical reserve fulfilling functional requirements

It is hardly noticeable from a distance, but a golden X-TEND veil drapes itself over the new building in the Kirchhaldenschule education center in Stuttgart’s Botnang district. The compact structure with a quadratic ground plan extends the existing complex of school building, sports hall and caretaker apartment, creating new rooms for movement and games for the approximately 60 daycare children.

The purpose-built structure designed by Günter Hermann Architekten is divided into two areas: the first floor with an all-day area and canteen for the primary school pupils and childcare facility on the upper two floors. This functional separation is reflected in the façade design. A row of floor-to-ceiling windows, broken up by elements made of exposed concrete, in the lower area contrasts with the façade cladding made of pre-weathered, structure-planed larch of the upper two floors. Spacious window openings create light-flooded play areas for the youngsters.

On two sides surrounding escape balconies extend the volume of the cube. A preassembled façade mesh made of X-TEND Colours by Carl Stahl Architecture provides safety for both children and educators as they move around. Thanks to the golden color of the stainless-steel cable mesh, it effectively merges with the light wood of the façade, its subdued presence leaving plenty of scope for the architecture to be enjoyed in full.

Depending on the light, the mesh has a more or less space-shaping effect and changes the form of the building volume. A vertical change of the mesh widths has a functional use and is visually appealing. Up to the parapet, a small mesh width of 40mm stops the children from climbing.

The larger mesh width of 70mm from the parapet up to the edge of the ceiling increases the transparency of the façade mesh so that you can gaze into the distance without any hindrance.

St. Nikolaus childcare center in Eibelstadt, Germany: cheerful double-purpose façade mesh

From a distance floating red sequins seem to adorn the façade of the St. Nikolaus childcare center in the Bavarian town of Eibelstadt.

The planners from the architecture firm Jäcklein used the stainless steel cable mesh X-TEND from Carl Stahl Architecture as fall protection on the outer escape balconies, at the same time deliberately integrating it as a design element. This makes the building look cheerful and inviting, strong color accents and the arbitrary arrangement of the round decorative elements in the upper and lower mesh area stimulate the children’s imagination.

Thanks to the transparency of X-TEND, the view to the outside is retained; the children can observe nature and see what is happening in the yard and garden. This satisfies their natural curiosity and enables interaction with the environment. Stretching over a total height of 4.50 meters and with the mesh width changing between 40mm and 80mm, the mesh provides reliable protection when walking on the outside emergency walkways.

Kinderhaus im Riedlepark, Friedrichshafen, Germany:
focusing on openness and transparency

The new Kinderhaus im Riedlepark building in Friedrichshafen is an innovative childcare center which satisfies today’s requirements of all-day childcare. The architecture planned by Lanz Schwager Architekten from Constance is open and friendly. Light wood and spacious rooms ensure an inviting atmosphere; the clear, geometric design language provides orientation. A wide, sports-arena-like staircase leads up from the atrium-like foyer to the galleries of the top floor, which accommodates the group rooms for the approximately 130 children between the age of zero and six years.

On the stairway, a double-running balustrade filled with X-TEND stainless steel cable mesh by Carl Stahl Architecture provides protection and safety. Virtually invisible and yet robust, it fades into the background and, with a narrow mesh width, ensures that children’s feet cannot get a hold to climb. To underscore the open character of the architecture, the galleries on the second floor do without sight-impeding balustrades. The transparent stainless steel cable mesh X-TEND is installed here to the ceiling as fall protection: the cables are 2mm-wide and the mesh width is 60mm. The ceiling-high safety mesh also stops the children throwing any objects down to the first floor. Carl Stahl Architecture secured the mesh virtually invisibly ensuring the architecture can be enjoyed to the full.

An organically shaped wooden cocoon hanging from the ceiling is an eye-catcher in the foyer and is a contrast to the otherwise resolute geometry of the architecture. An arch-shaped entrance integrated in the protective mesh provides the children with safe access to this light-flooded play and retreat area.