Konishi Gaffney have been working for three years with a locally run, not-for-profit community playgroup to design their new building.
The Toddlers Hut dates from 1930 and is thought to be the oldest independent childcare facility in the UK. Located on a beautiful site overlooking the beach and sea in Portobello (a seaside Victorian suburb of Edinburgh) the existing single storey timber hut is in a poor state of repair and in need of replacement.
Konishi Gaffney, whose son attended the playgroup in 2010-11, have led a wide ranging community consultation, feasibility and design exercise which culminated in planning approval despite its sensitive location. The application received 36 positive and supportive comments and no objections, highly unusual for the area.
The proposal is for a new 2 storey, split-gabled, building that plays on the language of beach huts. The ground floor will provide play space and access to the enclosed garden while the 1st floor offers a kitchen and a quiet reading & story telling space with views out across the sea.
Materials include recycled & reclaimed brick, a feature of the area which in the 19th Century was the site of a brick works. Clerestory glazing provides privacy to the ground floor with timber cladding above. The curved corner makes the widely used pedestrian route more generous (the school run sees hundreds of children and families pass the building every day) and allows for a large curved window with views to the sea and along the promenade – at children height
The design has been tested for energy performance and given the Highest, A* rating.