Child's Play Nursery

Francesco Pierazzi Architects, Surbiton, 2017


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Gianluca Maver     Download Original

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Extension of a Victorian villa to improve and extend a nursery in Surrey.

A large two-storey Victorian suburban villa, located in the north-east corner of a site at the junction of St Matthews Avenue and Chamberlain Way in Surbiton, Surrey. Delimited by a playground with mature trees, the property has been extended to improve the internal layout and provide additional floor space for a private children’s nursery on the ground floor of the villa, with residential quarters above it.

Child’s Play Nursery required a dedicated kitchen and canteen with multifunctional abilities to host activities, clubs and for event hire. The new space also needed to double as a comfortable family living room at weekends, when the nursery is closed.

The proposal for a side extension to replace a derelict garage is conceived as a domestic project and as an addition subordinate to the host property. The extension is made up of two separate volumes facing Chamberlain Way: the smaller space accommodates the kitchen and the primary space the canteen.

The two volumes – rectangular in plan and both with a mono pitch roof – are set back from one another and are rotated so that the roofs slope in opposite directions, allowing the primary space to have the highest ceiling facing the mature garden and playground.

The architectural language draws inspiration from Froebel’s gifts and wood blocs. A would-be architect who pursued education as a profession instead, Friedrich Froebel believed that playing with blocks gives fundamental expression to a child’s soul, with blocks symbolising the actual building blocks of the universe.

The materials – white bricks, birch plywood, exposed timber roof structure, floor tiles – have been selected to reference Froebel’s building blocks and have been employed to emphasise their qualities and patterned textures. Bee hotels have been inserted into the skin of the building and a water butt collects rainwater that the children use to water the plants that they grow.


  • Begun: Aug 2016
  • Completed: Dec 2017
  • Floor area: 44m2
  • Sectors: Education, Residential
  • Total cost: £114,500
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: May 2016
  • Procurement: JCT Minor Works Building Contract 2011 with Contractor design
  • Address: 31 St Matthews Avenue, Surbiton, KT6 6JQ, United Kingdom