The Taika Kindergarten building is carefully designed with the needs and the scale of children in mind in order to provide them an experiential and friendly space. Taika opened its doors to serve Seinäjoki families in January 2018, and it has been well loved by the staff and the children alike since the beginning.
Despite the relatively large number of children served, Taika manages to offer a home-like scale. Taika provides daycare for 225 children between ages of one and seven as well as a place of work for 50 staff members. Taika also serves families with parents with shift work schedules offering overnight care for a rotating group of 200 children with a maximum of 60 children spending the night in the kindergarten at a time. This means that all overnight childcare offered by the City of Seinäjoki to its residents is now gathered under one roof. Also the offices of the regional directors of early education services are now all in one place in the Taika building supporting their work as a team of coordinators of regional services.
Taking its cue from the Ostrobotnian traditional barn in the open field, Taika is shaped like a large barn. Yet, it is colorful and full of light, and its star-shaped plan serves to provide rhythm and to create a sense of a home like scale. With its flexibly adapting naptime spaces, its highly practical foyer areas equipped to deal with the challenges brought along by the Nordic weather and the high demands it poses on handling children’s outdoor clothing, as well as the pockets of loosely separated outdoor areas each with its own porch to provide shelter from rain and to serve children of different age groups, the Taika Kindergarten is a great example of the contemporary Nordic approach to the design of kindergarten buildings.
The star-shaped plan offers an efficient and flexible organization of space. The spaces in the building are divided into six independent home base areas that each house two groups of children. There are altogether 12 groups of 18-20 children of different ages. Each home base area has its own entrance providing direct access from the yard. The home base areas have large windows facing the yard and giving the building lots of light and air. The space is organized in a playful rhythm of alternating sheltered nooks and open areas and the interior spaces and their furnishings are color-coded so that each age group has its own identifiable color and its own section of the building helping the children orient themselves when moving around in the building.
In a double height space in the center where the three wings are joined, there is an open shared space that serves as a dining hall and also transforms into a performance space or a meeting space for the community to use in the evening hours. The shared spaces of Taika provide an array of spaces suitable for a large number of activities ranging from a swimming pool in the basement, to a workshop with a workbench for working with wood, and easels and drawing boards, as well as a large gym hall. A wide ‘reading stair’ in the center provides an auditorium-like space for children to gather in.
The exterior walls are clad with larch paneling and will acquire a silvery gray patina over time. Segments of the exterior walls are covered with aluminum that reflects the color of the sky and the surrounding landscape.