Preschool - B
Acoustic improvements put everyone in a good mood
When the new development of the "Kindergarten Am Zauberwald" in Walkenried, Germany, was finished in 2000, something was not right – the extremely high noise levels.
Necessary to provide space
Extending the preschool was necessary to provide space for all the 75 children - who are divided into three different groups. In addition to three large play and activity rooms, the basement level has an open kitchen area with a "children's cafeteria" and storage and cleaning areas. The top floor comprises a flexible facility with built-in children's kitchen, used for various physical exercises and creative activities, an office and staff rooms.
Noisy new premises
The aim of the preschool's pedagogical approach is to teach children to become independent and develop into individuals full of self-confidence. They get to try new things and create their own experiences. However, structure and management are necessary to meet the requirements for order, safety and the aim of the education, which is why there is a fixed plan for the various activities of the day.
This ought to have been enough to meet the requirements for an ideal environment in which children could play and learn, but the first thing staff noticed when they moved into the new premises was the noise level. The noise came from the children's various activities, games, play and exercise. The children and teachers suffered headaches and ringing in their ears. Concentration dropped dramatically and the children became unruly.
The complaints were quick to appear. Parents noted that children raised their voices when they were at the preschool. It could take the whole weekend before their voices were back to their normal level.
After the improvements to the sound environment, the happy and relaxed faces of staff and children were plain to see. Now further acoustics improvements are being carried out where needed.
Poor acoustics - root of the problem
The acoustics were found to be at the root of the problem, so the rooms in which the children spent their time were fitted with acoustic ceilings of the top absorption class. Building physics expert Friedel Reinhold of the company Ingenieur- und Sachverständigengesellschaft für Bauphysik, who was involved in the decision, found that the positive subjective assessments of the new sound environment were supported by the objective measurements of reverberation time.
As the head of the nursery school says: "Now peace and happiness reign again in our nursery. Before you couldn't even hold a normal conversation with someone a metre away."