architecture : urban : visual culture

The Fairy Tale Kindergarten

Since the autumn of 2016 operates the very first “Darmstadt Passivhaus Institut” recognized kindergarten of Hungary. It means not just tremendously reduced heating and cooling costs, but thanks to the creative architectural programme by Archikon studio the building sets an iconic milestone of its genre. The “menu” applied in such a tiny commission contains ceiling openings yet thermal bridge free design, a rooftop playground, implemented and tailored graphics and so much more.

In short about the context and the commissioner

The 13th district links the northern Pest side of the Hungarian capital, Budapest with the downtown; nonetheless it stretches nearby the river Danube. Somewhere in the middle of it, a corner away from a huge, newly built market hall can be found the new kindergarten. It is surrounded by a dense of 10 stories high blocks of flats and homogeneous office buildings from the first decade of 2000.

Such a characterless neighbourhood can be easily understood as a free playground for an architect, even more for the commissioned Archikon studio whose statement is a deep engagement with irregular and experimental solutions, and beyond that sensitivity towards social projects. They avoid following the same path, even when facing a similar function as before. The boundaries of their free hand was given by the local government, the 13th district as the commissioner, who has dreamt of a passive house kindergarten realized with a limited budget – diminished construction costs as well as lowered operational expenses. This project is the second passive house social investment of the local government, a 100 apartment social housing has just been completed in the district.

On the spot of the “Fairy Tale Kindergarten” (Meséskert Tagóvoda) stood a one floor high, prefabricated concrete kindergarten dating back to the 1980s, which was not able to serve the needs of the habitants anymore; neither in the level of service and neither in its capacity. The local government has decided to address the challenges of the district and renew the social infrastructure, focusing on childcare projects in the first years of the investment programme, besides relying on sustainable solutions. This was the point when the story of the Fairy Tale Kindergarten begun.

Innovative features of the project

The base plan of the building comparing it to the general state kindergarten standards has not been changed, since the common spaces – such as the arrival zone, the gym, the salt therapy room, the special education rooms and a theatre stage – is positioned behind the street facade. The 16 group rooms housed by two floors face the silent yet not too significant backyard. The large number of groups indicated the idea to create one more playground which has been located on the top of the building, realized with colourful concrete curves. This solution results exciting transitional chain of spaces split to covered and uncovered nooks and yards, as well as ensures inexhaustible variations for the hide-and-seek game. The yellow of the curved walls is the only strong colour the architect applies on some specific surfaces such as the main staircase. This minimal attitude towards the colours is spiced with the tailored graphic design of the interior and graphic designer, Timea Ferth. The elements of this unique illustration implemented on the floors, walls and doors introduce a fantasy world with lovely and entertaining characters.

In order to full-fill the requirements of the passive house standard the ceiling openings - as a design idea resulting structural challenges - mean a great effort and success, while adding a lot to the atmosphere of the building. They have been realized in the enlarged form of a triangle, a circle and a square as bespoke “glass pavers”. Detailed and thorough understanding of the function has been proven by the architects of Archikon, Csaba Nagy and his colleagues, as they planned lowered windows to let children to see through, added magnetic and writable plaster to make the installation of ad hoc exhibitions on the walls easy and fast, and they have built-in arbors for a green facade and green ceilings of the rooftop playground.

Passive standard components of the building

  • high level and précised construction with thermal bridge free design
  • superinsulation
  • automatic shading system
  • passive house standard windows, doors and connections
  • low-volume heat recovery ventilation system
  • leakage rate less than 0.05 cubic feet per minute
  • annual heating and cooling demand of not more than 15 kWh/m2 per year
  • total primary energy (source energy for electricity, etc.) consumption (primary energy for heating, hot water and electricity) not be more than 120 kWh/m2 per year


This text is only produced for the Jurying process of the Media Award of Architecture, Budapest. The architect office Archikon studio preserves the right to keep the copyright of this text and does not contribute to any publication of it!



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