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Nimtim were asked to review the existing accommodation of a state nursery school in Walthamstow, North London, as part of an invited competition. Currently a single sorey detached building, the nursery offers playful learning to children of all faiths, cultures and abilities. Past interventions had left a disjointed, inefficient, patchwork of spaces. The governing body wanted to improve connection between spaces internally and externally; and create a layout with flexible safe spaces with better storage, visibility and clear signage and way finding for children, visitors and staff.

 

nimtim apporoached the project holistically creating a a single vision for the nursery with differing levels of intervention. A visual layer is applied to new and existing parts of the building so it can be read in different ways by its different users:

 

For the children, the nursery is conceived of as a mini-city that they can read, inhabit and interact with. There are ‘public’ spaces where they can play, relax, protest in. There are more intimate spaces where they can

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read, sleep, study as well as practical spaces for washing & eating.

 

This new hierarchy will help the children to learn how to interact and behave in the spaces they will inhabit as they grow up. It will introduce a visual and architectural language that will help define behaviour and etiquette within the nursery environment but also as they emerge into the world.

 

For the adults who work and visit the nursery, another, different layer is added. This layer rationalises security, thresholds between spaces and the different uses in the building. It will help improve way finding, reduce visual clutter and help staff and visitors understand the different spaces within the building.

 

The concept works across different levels of intervention on the nursery from light-touch with almost no physical changes to layout or structure through to radical adjustments and additions to the existing building.

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