School of the Osage Early Childhood Center
The existing 1930’s Tudor style elementary became the inspiration for a cohesive campus design on the outside. On the inside, the early childhood learning environment of today determines the design.
The new facility wraps around the top of the site like an open embrace to create an enclosed playground with views back toward the historical elementary building and the Ozark forests beyond. Playing off the Tudor style, the structure becomes a small village of individual houses, with the quintessential shape of a gabled home repeated throughout. Each classroom is accessed from a single-loaded corridor with an expansive visual connection to the playground. The corridors pop along its length with intermittent learning areas based on construction, mathematics, reading, technology, gross motor skills, and fine motor skills. Expanded zones within the corridor offer open STEM water exploration areas and an interior tricycle path. The classrooms and corridor contain built-in reading cubbies, and large windows with low sills for child height views out.
The culmination of the different types of interior learning spaces occurs in the multi-purpose room. This space provides multi-functionality while maintaining various learning/play zones. The space performs as a large group gathering area for check-in, lunches, performances, and indoor play. It also contains a learning stair, performance area, tactile surfaces, reading cubbies, and an open area for floor projected interactive virtual games.
The playground, viewed from every corridor and multipurpose room, welcomes the child to engage in their environment. Some of the features include a concrete tricycle path, covered play areas, an exterior water zone, and a stone terraced performance area. Particularly unique to this exterior learning environment are the safe and native plantings that enhance the senses of sight, smell, and touch. As part of the inclusive landscape design, a meditation maze sculpted from grass and hardscape allow children to explore safely.