Hana Daycare Center
Kim Jong Oh
Incheon, South Korea
A microcosm of a neighborhood created by rooms, yards and hills. Cheongna District is a new city development, located near Incheon, Korea, on land reclaimed from the sea.
All the facilities in Cheongna are vehicle-centered, making it difficult to find a human scale.
Children in this area grow up in an urban environment, comprised mainly of apartments and office buildings, where convenience facilities are fragmentary and where both the streets and the natural environment, which should be interwoven together, are somewhat insufficient.
On this project, which is a daycare center serving Hana Financial employees and their children, it was the architect's belief that it should function as a microcosm of a neighbor-hood.
Although it would be impossible to include all the components that make up a neighborhood within such a setting, it was possible to create a neighborhood environment through the compositional and spatial framework, where children, parents and teachers are all of equal importance.
The rectangular site measures 40m x 140m long from north to south. On the center's ground floor are 18 nursery rooms, each a 9m module.
These are arranged alongside yards of various sizes to form units; each unit is densely repeated to form the whole. The nursery rooms are arranged east-west, with play spaces interwoven amongst them.
The plan is largely divided into an infant area to the south of the site (0-2 year olds) and a toddler area to the north (3-5 year olds). Entrances and offices are placed so as to separate the two different age group zones.
The restaurant and the spacious 3.8m wide staircase, which functions as a book space, are positioned at the point where the two areas meet. These are connected to a multi-purpose space and a special activity room on the first floor.
Inside, the ceiling undulates like a hilly landscape and appears to meet the sky. It is an indoor 'topos' that connects the immediate, flat landscape, with the distant landscape of Cheongna, with its small hills and clustered apartment blocks.
Protruding skylights are placed at the points where natural light entering through the courtyards cannot reach, dramatically drawing in natural light. These protruding skylights represent rocky outcrops on a hill when seen from the outside.
The roof's geometric appearance also resembles folds of origami; inside it creates a dynamic interior space which ranges from 2.5m to 6.6m in height. The rooftop terrain covers the entire space on the first and second floors; parts of it sometimes act as a place for children to run and play, while the rest remains as an 'untouched landscape'.
A wooden frame with a depth of 0.6m, height of 2.2m, and width of 1.2m forms the boundary between the nursery, game room, and office room, and controls the horizontality of the internal space, which includes all storage spaces and passages.
The western outer wall of the daycare center was built solidly at a height of 4m to block out the noise from a high overpass, connecting Yeongjongdo, Incheon Airport and Seoul, which runs alongside the site.
On the other side, to the east, the building meets the Global Plaza of Hana Financial Group. The center's concave-convex spatial structure is in direct contact to this flat open plaza.
The center's exterior walls were finished with polished wood grain effect concrete, and the courtyard walls were line with primary colored tiles. It was the architects' intent to make shade and light, courtyards and interior spaces, and open hills, all clearly visible.