Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson

Brákarborg Kindergarten Brings the Aurora Borealis Indoors for Young Learners

Header: Örn Erlendsson

The Brákarborg Kindergarten is a renovated structure, previously a shopping centre, that now welcomes 120 children every single day. The renovation was intended to make sure that the new kindergarten would be a cheerful and inviting space where kids could learn and develop freely, so every single design element makes a difference here, especially the lighting.

Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson
Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson
Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson
Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson

Lights on

The lighting design focuses on creating a healthy environment for both the children and the staff, contributing to their well-being and sleep-wake cycle, something crucial due to the Nordic climate, where natural light can truly be challenging. 

Each room’s lighting plan was tailored to its users and activities so that there are always the perfect conditions for learning, playing, and relaxing. To ensure this, the lighting design has a special system that adjusts the colour temperature and brightness throughout the day, something that can also be manually adjusted by the carers when needed. To steer clear of a cluttered look, the team responsible for the lighting design, Liska, hid most of the lighting behind a stretched ceiling, which also helps eliminate possible glare. 

Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson
Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson
Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson
Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson

Each room has its own lighting elements, as explained above. In the main play area, the designers added RGB spotlights to give it a vibrant touch, perfect for the children’s fun activities and their personal development, as they can learn about colour and light through the spotlights. The dining hall was given pendants with RGBW bulbs, making it a fun and festive space for special events. The outside wasn’t forgotten, as the team ensured that the kids would always have a place to play outside even during Iceland’s dark winters. This area’s lighting elements also help foster greater imagination among the kids, as they can let their minds wander off while admiring projections and RGB shadows

Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson
Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson
Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson
Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson

Sustainability is helping our future

Sustainability was very important in this renovation, as the team aimed for an “excellent” BREEAM certification. The architectural choices, guided by daylighting analysis, strive to maximise natural light and reduce energy consumption. For this, the kindergarten incorporates energy-efficient lighting fixtures, systems that allow occupants to control lighting, dimming controls, and motion sensors, all of which contribute to lower energy use. LEDs are also used throughout the building to further enhance efficiency, while the outdoor lighting design minimises light pollution and ensures security

In the end, a lifecycle analysis showed that the building’s carbon footprint is just a quarter of what a similar new construction would produce, which shows that a cosy and welcoming environment can be attained through sustainable practices, even in a country with such a harsh climate as Iceland. 

Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson
Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson
Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson
Photo credit: Örn Erlendsson