Kindergarten of Longfor Gaobeidian: Active House for kids
The Kindergarten of Longfor Gaobeidian is a kindergarten in Hebei Province, China designed by MoChen Architects & Engineers for Longfor Group. The project won an Active House Award at the 2018 Active House Symposium. Below Mr Lai of MoChen Architects & Engineers answers a few questions on behalf of the Longfor Gaobeidian kindergarten project.
Your project won an award at the Active House Awards this year, congratulations. Why did you submit your project for the Active House Awards?
首先祝贺您的项目在今年的Active House大奖中获奖。您为什么要提交这个项目去参加Active House大奖？
This project brings together our in-depth thinking on what is sustainable and benign architecture, and it is a very good opportunity to try to find solutions for these thoughts in architecture and engineering technology. These thoughts and attempts are completely consistent with the concept of Active House.
What does winning the Active House Award mean for your project/organization? What would you say are some of the key features that make Active Houses better buildings?
This award is not only an affirmation of the work we have done, but also an incentive to continue to try these aspects in the future. Compared with some other green buildings, Active House not only emphasizes energy saving and environmental protection, but also emphasize health and comfort, and emphasize that buildings serve people. To achieve Well-being is to truly design for people, which is the same as the traditional Chinese concept of unity between man and nature.
At this year’s symposium, there was a lot of talk about digitalisation and technology changing our buildings. How does your project use these?
Only when the application of technology serves people can reflect its value. We adopt appropriate application strategies in the design. The project is a kindergarten, the atrium is its core public activity space, open skylights were installed on the roof to let in sunlight naturally. Through computer aid, the area and position of skylight are carefully deliberated to achieve a perfect balance between daylighting, ventilation and energy saving. The interior of the building is equipped with an efficient fresh air system to eliminate haze, which can still provide the best indoor air environment under the condition of external climatic restrictions. At the same time, the building adopts the structural design with high gas tightness to achieve the minimum energy consumption. Here, we hope to create a natural, comfortable and healthy environment for children to grow up with the aid of technology.
How do you think we can convince more people of the importance of healthy buildings? How does your project address this important aspect?
Now the concept of health has been deeply rooted in the hearts of people. Our project is kindergarten, where children spend most of their growth time, health becomes more important. First, we think more about design strategies from this perspective, especially in terms of natural lighting and air. Second, we always pay attention to people’s actual experience in space, not only the physical space construction but also the internal environment. Thirdly, we all choose ecological and environmental protection materials in the project. We believe that a truly healthy and comfortable space is the most persuasive.
Active House is all about comfort, energy and environment. How does your project incorporate these aspects?
In terms of comfort, the design creates better natural lighting and air conditions. Due to the limited land used for the construction of the project, we reserved all the rooms facing south for children’s living rooms, and set up a sunny atrium in the middle of the project to maximize the creation of natural lighting conditions and improve the natural airflow. With the help of the air conditioning system, we created a comfortable internal environment. In terms of energy, the project can reduce energy consumption by optimizing the insulation layer, reducing the thermal bridges, and providing better air tightness. Sun-shading facilities installed for the exterior windows to reduce the effect of thermal radiation in the summer. The structure also takes full advantage of natural light sources and uses energy-saving LED illumination devices in public areas. The heat recovery efficiency of fresh air unit reaches 75%. Eventually, through optimizing design, the energy consumption is only 9kWh/ (m2a) for heating in winters and 17kWh/ (m2a) for air-condition in summers. In terms of environment, green environmental protection materials used in the interior of the building, and the external wall painted with better self-cleaning performance, which can reduce surface treatment and facilitate daily cleaning and maintenance. In order to save water, water-saving sanitary appliances used inside the building, and a drip irrigation system is equipped for outdoor landscapes.
One of this year’s speakers at the symposium suggested that as prices go up, so do the expectations of homebuyers. Do you think the Active House label can help purchasers identify good projects?
I think so. On the one hand, this label is an effective classification of buildings. Active House, with its unique concept of making buildings more friendly to people and healthier to the environment, and it can provide a better quality of life than ordinary buildings, which is the best gift for purchasers. On the other hand, it is also a kind of guidance. It enables development enterprises, designers and the owners to have a deeper understanding and experience of the relationship between architecture and health, to pay more attention to a healthy life.
If you were to give one piece of advice to next year’s contestants, what would it be?
What I want to say is that no matter how advanced technology human beings master in the future, people will always be the first in architectural design. Everything in architecture should be people-oriented.
Read more about the kindergarten of Longfor Gaobeidian here