Wonderforest Nature Preschool Brooklyn, United States

Wonderforest Nature Preschool, NY Educational Facility, New York Nursery Building Interior Renovation, NYC Daycare

Wonderforest Nature Preschool in Brooklyn

Feb 26, 2023

Design: Palette Architecture

Address: Prospect Heights district, Brooklyn, NY, United States

Wonderforest Nature Preschool Brooklyn United States

Photos by Pavel Bendov and James Clark

Wonderforest Nature Preschool, NY

Palette Architecture, a firm creating built environments to enhance the daily experiences of contemporary life, is proud to introduce Wonderforest, a nature-focused preschool in the Prospect Heights district of Brooklyn, New York. Augmenting the nature-based learning programs of Brooklyn Nature Days, providing outdoor forest education for children aged 2 to 4 years old, Wonderforest Nature Preschool is the first indoor space of its kind, and a unique new concept that raises the bar on nature education.

Wonderforest Nature Preschool Brooklyn United States

“Nature education at an early age is so important, particularly at this moment in time when our youngest generations are destined to contend with rising environmental challenges,” says Peter Miller, one of three founding partners at Palette Architecture. “As a complement to the school’s innovative program centered around outdoor excursions to nearby Prospect Park, we have endeavored to take the ethos of that style of education and to bring it indoors.”

Wonderforest Nature Preschool Brooklyn NY

Nature, abstracted
As the first facility of its kind, Wonderforest presented Palette Architecture with a series of challenges associated with bringing nature into the built environment of an urban storefront. The firm’s approach began with a focus on how to fit the principles of a forest school into the physical constraints of a built environment. Embracing a strategy of abstracted nature, they embarked on a quest to replicate the palette and textures of nature through simplified biophilic forms that would enable children to learn through interactions with water, trees, dirt, and the collective landscape.

Wonderforest Nature Preschool Brooklyn NY

“We wanted to design the primary play areas to provide the same range of experiences found in the park outings,” explains Miller. “We endeavored to ensure that the facility would provide multiple and varied opportunities for play and learning through open-ended environments.”

Wonderforest Nature Preschool Brooklyn

Layering unique experiences
Focusing on the attributes of the storefront façade, Palette seized opportunities to incorporate natural light, establish visual connections, and create varying levels of privacy. A welcome area located along the storefront window, flanked by open-play spaces, leverages natural light to project an inviting atmosphere for passersby. The concept was centered on the process of layering spaces to create pockets of both activity and privacy, resulting in a series of sectional changes that foster exploration, and a private layer containing classrooms and support spaces. To brighten interior spaces not privy to natural light, Palette installed acoustic interior windows that also serve to provide views from the corridor where staff can oversee activities without distracting children from their experiences.

“A lot of thought went into the concept of journeying along a wandering path of wonderment infused with abstract forms of nature,” explains Miller. “The path is lined with levels of free play and exploration, as well as open spaces where children can share their adventures in a collaborative environment.”

Wonderforest Nature Preschool Brooklyn

A meandering path of discovery and adventure
Separating the public and private layers of Wonderforest, a meandering path serves as a flowing connection between distinct environments including The Forest, The Greenhouse, and The Wetlands. Extending inward from the welcome area, the path embarks on a journey inspired by natural principles and the flow of water as it weaves its way along the edges of classrooms and on to the perimeter of The Forest.

Wonderforest Nature Preschool Brooklyn United States

The Forest is an expansive, open play area that includes swings set against a backdrop marked by a rolling green hillside of artificial grass and abstracted tree forms. Recycled materials and sustainably-harvested lumber lay the foundations of Wonderforest’s sustainable environment, where changes in topography and materiality, under the glow of suspended LED lighting, foster a sense of wonderment and adventure.

Wonderforest Nature Preschool Brooklyn

Further along the meandering path, cove lighting swoops upward in an undulating ceiling above as the journey transitions toward The Greenhouse, a narrow section defined by tall windows and a dense layer of vegetation. A variety of plant species provide educational experiences for children, who engage in their delicate care and growth along the path as it bends and descends around The Wetland.

In contrast to the more formal demeanor of the other zones, The Wetland is a durable, wet space that encourages children to immerse themselves in tactile play and sensory explorations centered on buoyancy, dynamics, and creativity. A child-sized water table and mud kitchen contribute to playfully messy adventures mimicking the essence of park pond experiences.

Wonderforest Nature Preschool Brooklyn Wonderforest Nature Preschool Brooklyn NY

“We are particularly proud of Wonderforest’s tangible benefits for future generations, and for its contribution to advancing new concepts in the world of design that embrace visions of a better world,” concludes Peter Miller. “Much work has been done to find ways to seamlessly blend the built environment into natural settings, but this project succeeds in reversing that flow by drawing nature into an urban environment.”

Wonderforest Nature Preschool in Brooklyn, NY – Building Information

Architecture: Palette Architecture – https://palettearch.com/

Location: Brooklyn, New York (38 6th Avenue)
Client: Brooklyn Nature Days
Architecture Firm: Palette Architecture

Project Sector/Typology: Education
Project Start: October 2019
Project Completed: Mar 2022
Total area: 3,600SF
Budget: $1M

Wonderforest Nature Preschool Brooklyn United States

Team Credits
Managing Partner(s): Peter Miller
Creative Director: Peter Miller
Lead Designer/Architect: Rebecca Velic
Designers/Architects: Matus Ferguson

Collaborators Credits
Contractors: Nucor Construction Corp.
Constructors: DCM Fabrications (Trees)
Engineers: Basic Group
Lighting consultant: Palette Architecture
Acoustics Consultants: Palette Architecture
Electrical: Basic Group
Mechanical: Basic Group
Plumbing: Basic Group
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning: Basic Group

Materials & Suppliers
Metal supplier: Cobra Cabinetry Corp.
Glass supplier: Sergi’s Images
Wood supplier: DCM Fabrications (Trees)
Cobra Cabinetry Corp. (Millwork)
Windows: CRL
Doors: Reliable Doors and Hardware Inc.
Equipment (MEP & HVAC): United Cool Air
Lighting fixtures: PK Green
Bathroom fixtures: Delta & Kohler
Vinyl: Marmoleum
Turf: Forever Lawn
Architectural Software: Autodesk Revit

About Palette Architecture
Palette Architecture is a leading-edge, full-service architecture and design practice. The founding partners first met as students of the Graduate School of Architecture at Columbia University, where their research focused on collaborative design, technical innovation, digital fabrication, and material investigations. After working at internationally renowned architecture offices, the partners reunited to form Palette Architecture in 2010 around a shared mission to create physical spaces that enhance and enrich the daily experience of people’s lives. The firm’s creative process fosters a collaborative dialogue with its clients, consultants, and builders to promote a more responsible and humane built environment.

Wonderforest Nature Preschool Brooklyn NY

Photographers: Pavel Bendov

Wonderforest Nature Preschool in Prospect Heights district, Brooklyn, NY images / information received 260323 from v2com newswire

Location: Prospect Heights district, Brooklyn, New York City, NY, USA

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