Solhuset, Denmark - a kindergarten with a sustainable difference

Solhuset (The Sun House) was conceived to set new standards for future sustainable childcare centres. The vision was to enable children to live and learn in interaction with nature in a space that has a positive impact on the environment and its everyday users.


Focus on children's wellbeing 

Childhood lays the foundation for a good future. Architecture that houses small children, and the people who care for them, should ensure this foundation is as supportive and healthy as possible. The childcare centre Solhuset in Hørsholm, Denmark aims to do just that.

Designed to accommodate about 100 children and 30 staff, Solhuset (the Sun House) comprises a 1,300 m2 interior with plenty of outdoor space and seamless transitions between functions and between the outdoors and indoors.

The centre is laid out as a small village, with streets, lanes, small squares and niches, and divided into three zones: an arrival zone; a small children’s zone with access to group rooms, an outdoor area and an open-air shelter; and a large children’s zone with access to group rooms and the outdoor area. Common exercise rooms and eating facilities are situated in the middle of the building for easy access.

Working with small children is a demanding job. In Solhuset, the staff can focus on activities and care work, while technology handles the indoor climate to create optimal working conditions. Intelligently controlled sun screening and window opening allow the flow of daylight and fresh air to adapt continuously to the weather conditions outside and people’s needs inside.

The weather station on the roof and the temperature and CO2 sensors in every room ensure a good indoor climate, protecting against overheating, ventilating with fresh air, and switching the lights on and off according to requirements and weather conditions. They also help save energy.

When a lot of children are gathered in the same place, a room can get stuffy and noisy. However, Solhuset addresses these problems with well-proven solutions.

Inside the centre, the special design and volume of the rooms, together with the use of sound absorbers, ensure a good acoustic climate.

All materials used to build Solhuset are sustainable throughout their entire lifecycle, from production and construction to subsequent use, maintenance and disposal. The materials also have minimal impact on the indoor climate.

The facades, for instance, are clad with wood, weather-treated without the use of heavy metals or solvents. And the roofing between the solar thermal collectors and solar cells is constructed from an organic green sedum material that absorbs rainwater. Recyclable materials were used whenever possible, with many –surfaces and paints, for example – bearing the Nordic Ecolabel or the Danish Indoor Climate Label.

The sustainable childcare centre, Solhuset is filled with fresh air and 3.5 times more daylight than required by current building regulations. And thanks to passive solar gain from windows, solar collectors, solar cells and geothermal pipes, it is CO2 neutral and self-sufficient in terms of energy.

Photos: Adam Mørk

Architect: CCO Architects

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