Steiner School Kindergarten

Polwarth, Edinburgh

Nestling between the two large wings of the Rudolf Steiner School, the Kindergarten is a physical realisation of the principles of Steiner’s Waldorf education methods and theory of metamorphosis.

The final design is a product of the practice, having originated as a project by Wilfried Bohm, a Steiner teacher who observed the daily rituals of the kindergarten.  The form successfully nurtures important elements in a child’s development by creating spaces in which to further everyday experiences within the ordered central spaces and encouraging the teachers and children to create their own worlds in the open teaching areas.  Although complex, the six-sided plan, based on the geometry of the site, readily lent itself to timber framing.  The roof symbolises the mothering elements of the building, whilst the windows and column branches add lift to the elevation.

A low window in each room gives the children a glimpse of the garden, and high windows reveal the sky.  Placing the building against the north boundary created the maximum amount of garden space from the narrow site and utilised the southerly orientation to maximise solar gain.

This self-build project was built by a team of teachers, parents, contractors, former pupils and workers from the Garvald Training centre, with the children actively involved wherever possible, learning by observation and example.  The quality of the work is obvious, maintained through the pride and dedication of all concerned.  A ‘natural’ physical and spiritual environment has been created, and natural materials used wherever possible, including tactile wooden handles made by senior pupils.

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