Crèche and Nursery School in Bicesse, Estoril

The clear white cubic forms of this day-care centre stand in an open landscape between the mountains of Sintra and the sea. A whole new settlement area will be developed here in the near future. The building is flanked by two open spaces of quite different character. The quiet, enclosed courtyard with a cork oak and a shallow pool of water enjoys a view of the mountains to the north. This space is located in an angle between the administrative tract and the dining room, the glazed facade of which is shaded by a steel pergola. The outdoor area to the south, which commands a view of the sea, adjoins the children’s group rooms and is therefore equipped with play objects. Protection against adverse weather conditions is provided by a canopy roof with a sloping sheet-metal soffit that reflects the light downwards and allows a view of the sky. The dominant feature internally is the long corridor with a continuous, raised rooflight strip. This area forms the spine and focus of communication of the building. Interlocking with the corridor in Lego-block fashion are three functional realms, comprising administrative, ancillary and group spaces. Opposite the groups rooms, the corridor widens to form three recesses, which accommodate the two dining spaces and the library. These, in turn, are screened off by glazed sliding partitions. The entrances to the group rooms are also recessed to articulate the corridor and to create small transitional zones. Toilets, cloakrooms and stores are located in this tract, too, between the corridor and the group and recreation spaces. In this Roman Catholic institution, a distinction is made between different age groups – from crèche to preschool children up to five years old. Each group has its own room. The comprehensive spatial programme is complemented by an additional recreation area. The construction and fitting out of the building are on a modest scale: the brick and concrete structure is plastered, while the floors are covered with linoleum. The warm colour tone of the door and window frames in sucupira wood is contrasted with the white walls
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