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Kindergarten press conference and open day

Date: 15.09.2016

Wooden Kindergartens in Carinthia

Meeting of All Stakeholders

Lesoteka Houses has the experience, knowledge, and a team of experts such as designers, energy consultants, and structural engineers, who collaborate with them on all projects. Reliable and high-quality contractors, without whom the construction of three kindergartens in less than two years would be a utopia, add their piece to the mosaic.

Although inspired by Scandinavian countries, where wood consumption per capita is very high, they are still different, mainly because of the aforementioned forest-wood chain and the emphasis on local: “Scandinavians can be a role model for us mainly with their social responsibility, which they were actually the first to become aware of. Therefore, the term forest-wood chain says the most about us. The chain consists of links and is only as strong as its weakest link. It’s not enough just to build a house; it must primarily appeal to its inhabitants.

In this chain, we have managed to combine everything that yields this result – local wood, local knowledge, technology, and above all, people – they are always the most important. We are aware of the significance of the chain for Carinthia and the wider area. The kindergarten we are presenting today is the goal, the final product. The importance of this is the utilization of everything we have for the goal we all want – jobs utilizing local knowledge and materials, so that our children feel as comfortable as possible in this facility. I believe the facility feels like home to them in every aspect. And that was our intention.”

Lesoteka aims to incorporate as much Slovenian wood as possible into their buildings, although they still purchase certain wood semi-products from Austria because the appropriate production has not yet been established in Slovenia.

The Mayor of the City Municipality of Slovenj Gradec, Andrej Čas, said at the press conference that similar projects are planned for the future. The public-private partnership, like the one the municipality has entered into with Lesoteka Houses for the construction of three kindergartens, is of tremendous importance for the development of the local environment. By deciding to carry out the project in such a partnership form, granting the construction and management concession, and successfully completing and commissioning the investments, they have removed doubts and mistrust and started opening new paths to partnership between public and private. “I believe that the path to greater use of wood and thus to the stimulation of the wood processing industry can first be found through domestic demand. Public investments can contribute significantly to this – kindergartens, schools, and other public buildings that we build with public money. The use of wood as the primary material in public facilities is the best promotion and incentive for broader use in construction. Everything we do with public money must be in line with the principles of green, circular economy. Collaboration with Lesoteka and Slovenj Gradec Forestry provides opportunities for the local economy, local companies, and craftsmen.”

Architect Vesna Novak Temniker has been collaborating with Lesoteka Houses since its establishment, which in itself speaks to being a good partner. However, since it involves wooden construction, this collaboration is a particular challenge for her. Wooden construction is still quite unknown in our country and requires knowledge that architects do not acquire through formal education. The architect agrees that the knowledge needed for constructing wooden buildings is not readily available in official education, but she has acquired it from selected designers of wooden structures: “Therefore, as a designer who is fond of wood, I am especially grateful for the opportunity to work with experts like Lesoteka Houses, as they have proven that with their knowledge and innovation, they can execute all the technical details that initially seem impossible, but their trained workers are capable of realizing in the material world. They are a reliable partner, and their technical knowledge complements the design-conceptual knowledge.”

And what guided her in designing the kindergarten in Legen, which is her project? “In designing the facility, the starting point was the well-being of children, taking into account the natural features of the space – the location. The placement of the new kindergarten maximally preserves and utilizes the features of the broader space, meaning that the facility maximally approaches both roads with administrative service spaces, while on the other sides, it maintains the largest proportion of green, play, and sports-recreational areas, where four bright and spacious playrooms extend. The new kindergarten is a low-energy building and constructed in prefabricated wooden construction. This construction method is time-efficient, and wood as a building material ensures the highest quality living climate, which is particularly important for the development and well-being of children.” Vesna Novak Temniker is not surprised by the reactions of neighbors around the construction site, who were impressed by the speed of construction, as it was not noisy at all. The contractors have already demonstrated their skills and quality in constructing the multipurpose center at Kope, which was even more demanding.

Dr. Jure Kotnik, the architect of two Lesoteka Houses kindergartens, Podgorje and Šmarje, has a lot of experience with such construction abroad, but every building is special and has its own requirements. Despite being busy worldwide, in a year and a half with Lesoteka Houses, which invited him to collaborate also because they wanted an expert with such broad knowledge by their side, they designed two kindergartens that are quite different from each other. “Certainly, the challenge and desire are to bring the latest experiences from the global market to the local environment. The kindergartens are different from each other because the tasks and expectations were different, especially the environments. Still, they are facilities that maximize areas for children, allow them more contact with peers, better access to didactic content, more interaction with other educators than in the average kindergarten, more movement, which undoubtedly positively affects children in both kindergartens.”

Who else but a person with worldwide experience could confirm that Lesoteka Houses with its kindergartens is an example even to foreign builders: “With such collaboration and completed projects, we are building the best environment for our youngest and at the same time the identity of the place and the company itself. The municipality has taken a huge step forward in promoting wooden construction and local collaboration. It can easily stand side by side with Austria, where the conditions are incomparably better. Together, we have proven that it is possible to achieve excellence in all aspects with optimal costs, both from the architectural point of view and in terms of providing energy-efficient construction and quality living.”

The success of Lesoteka’s collaboration with Dr. Jure Kotnik is also influenced by innovation, openness, and youth, which characterize both approaches. “After the project in Šmartno, which was also awarded the Wooden Icon prize, with publications in media from the USA, China, Iran, Israel, Iceland to numerous European countries, trust in design was established, as the contractor recognized the potential and also marketing through architectural design, which is special because it is fresh and innovative. It is evident that Lesoteka’s management is young and understands that the principles of so-called earned marketing are equivalent to traditional advertising and that such exposure means both promotion and building the company’s identity, which can stand alongside stronger, larger players in this industry all over Europe!” Kotnik added.

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