University of Staffordshire
Stoke on Trent
Set adjacent to a woodland, but close to the city centre, the new on campus nursery for Staffordshire University is intended to be a sustainable place of early years learning with a connection to the immediate landscape and nature reserve.
The new nursery will provide 100fte places, including an observational suite with leading digital technology to facilitate applied learning for trainee teachers, social workers and University students. The associated forest school will provide an independent space for 24 children, of ages 3 to 7 years, to engage in outdoor learning activities that develop skills and knowledge not possible in the traditional classroom.
The building is formed of two single storey wings which enclose a garden. Clad in thermally treated timber, it is intended to address the adjacent trees and woodland whilst providing privacy and protection from the neighbouring road and student accommodation. A covered colonnade links the classrooms and enhances the connection between classrooms and landscape, and the exposed timber and natural finishes are continued inside to help set a calm atmosphere within the learning spaces.
The designs seek to achieve zero carbon, both in construction and in-use. Pre-fabricated timber cassettes and simple timber beams create teaching spaces that are naturally lit and ventilated by distinctive roof lights. Low windows, recessed seating and external benches aim to animate the building at child height, creating spaces to explore and connect with the outside.