Two Hands Preschool

  • area / size 5,382 sqft
  • Completed 2022
  • vPPR Architects has completed the colorful Two Hands Preschool combining stimulating educational spaces with environmentally-conscious design in London, England.

    The new spaces at the Two Hands Preschool are a mixture of robust materials for everyday use and warm interiors that reflect the comforts of home. A series of architectural elements encourage exploration and play without creating overly-controlled, prescriptive experiences.

    Inspired by the well-known educational philosophies of Montessori, Froebel and Reggio Emilia, the Two Hands approach is focused on positivity, thoughtfulness and understanding. This is reflected in the design response, such as the use of bold primary shapes and colours in natural finishes. Triangles, circles and squares are used to create a kind of internal street that can be used in a variety of different ways by the children. Many of these forms are also used for storage which is always essential for educational organisations.

    The colourful playfulness continues across the main space, with brightly-painted pillars used to designate different zones. A servery area has been created to look like a market stall, which opens out onto a dining area that also doubles up as a cookery classroom, all at child height. The dining room can be separated from the main space by a curtain and then there is an additional sleeping room, separated by a second curtain that can become a stage for performances.

    The entire space has been carefully considered to allow for views through different areas so that teachers can oversee children while changing a nappy and the headteacher can survey the nursery from her office, using portholes cut into internal walls. The behind-the-scenes areas are made of more durable materials that reflect traditionally institutional environments but there is still an element of joy, such as yellow lino flooring and blue tile grout.

    Many of the materials were selected for their longevity or low-carbon impact. Valchromat is used for the joinery as its wood fibres are impregnated with colour and therefore less affected by the bumps and scrapes of everyday use. Cork flooring (made from recycled bottle stoppers) was used for its remarkable carbon balance at -101 kg CO2eq /m2 while also offering noise reduction through sound absorption. Outside, the courtyard is made of locally-sourced and shredded tyres that provides a bouncy surface that is water permeable and can be reused at the end of its time at the nursery. Operational carbon of the building is reduced thanks to air source heat pumps, natural ventilation and specially designed lighting that avoids excessive electrical usage.

    Design: vPPR Architects
    Photography: Will Scott