An Urban Children’s Sanctuary
Located in Singapore’s Arts and Heritage district, NAFA Arts Preschool (formerly NAFA Arts Kindergarten) is the first arts-themed preschool in Singapore. Its curriculum aims to inspire learning and growth through the arts to develop aesthetic abilities, academic achievements and social emotional skills. The school has a spatial arrangement that allows for uninterrupted visual connections throughout, where lessons are conducted for the arts, music, dance, speech and drama, as well as urban farming.
The preschool is designed to invoke inquisitiveness in children by dissolving the typical classroom walls into porous boundaries, therefore creating opportunities of interplay and interaction amongst pre-schoolers. This also allows teachers to monitor the children’s activities. Instead of constructing full-height partition walls, cabinets were built to demarcate the classrooms and serve as storage spaces for both pre-schoolers and teachers. Harvesting natural lighting for each classroom was also one of the key considerations during the spatial design process.
The form of a pitched roof is largely used in the school’s aesthetics as a symbol of a sanctuary and implemented at the main entrance that connects to the reception and foyer. Muted cherry timber laminate is used as a finishing on the walls and ceiling to amplify the sense of nature and warmth to occupants. Vinyl floor material has been selected to cushion any high-impact activites
COMFORT FOR STUDENTS
The building design takes into account the various personality traits in children, whether introverted or extroverted, and presents spaces with different comfort levels. Semi-enclosed nooks are transitional spaces that are designed to be interactive areas during break time, acting as connecting points for the children to meet. The dining space is featured as a gathering point during meal times, where children’s programmes or movies are projected on a screening wall.
Structural columns of the site are concealed within the ‘porous wall’ and cladded with thick whiteboard laminate material to allow children to doodle on. Teachers can also use them during lessons and discussions. Positioned at the far end of the classroom to avoid obstruction, timber constructed raised floor is designed to conceal sleeping cots. It also creates a space for games and reading activities.
This site has an open terrace space on the third level for outdoor activities, allowing children to develop cognitively through an interactive environment. The outdoor space doubles as an urban farm for children to grow their own crops and learn about waste management and recycling unwanted plastic objects into useful farming equipment. Invisible grilles have been erected along the parapet walls for safety. In summary, the macro design intention is to achieve a safe and conducive learning environment for pre-schoolers.
Project Name: NAFA Arts Preschool
Location: 80 Bencoolen Street, Singapore
Completion Date: October 2018
Site Area: 1,200 square metres
Owner/Client/Developer: Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA)
Interior Design Firm: SODA (Spirit of Design Analogy Pte Ltd)
Principal Designer: Tung Ching Yew
Civil & Structural Engineer: Davoe Creative Pte Ltd
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Davoe Creative Pte Ltd
Main Contractor: Davoe Creative Pte Ltd
Interior Fit-Out Contractor: Davoe Creative Pte Ltd
Images: SODA (Spirit of Design Analogy Pte Ltd)