Kai Early Years by Education Design Architects

Fact File
Location: Bengaluru
Size: 420 sq m
Principal Architect:
Photography by: Andre Fanthome


Kai Early Years by Education Design Architects has been conceptualized as an open and welcoming built environment for 320 children. An early childhood campus in Bengaluru, it demonstrates a ‘third-teacher’ learning environment that nurtures the developmental needs of children aged two to six years through an engaging framework of consciously explorative and communal play spaces. The undulating façade envelope also provides subtle cues for movement within the campus.  Located in Whitefield, an urban neighbourhood in Bengaluru that is home to a community of young professionals hailing from all parts of the world, Kai Early Years is spread over 1.8 acres—currently India’s largest early childhood campus. A large shaded play court between these two buildings forms the functional and social heart of the campus.

The design scheme is predicated on the dynamic interplay between the indoors and the outdoors to create a holistic learning environment: pods spill out onto learning decks and outdoor activity areas along the building periphery, low sill levels maintained across the structure ensure consistent visual interconnections, and glass-topped corridors and membrane roofing over shared outdoor spaces ensure that the students can venture outdoors at all times. This interplay is strengthened by the strategic use of indigenous flowering plants and fruit-bearing trees to line the circulatory spaces and outdoor play areas, as a teaching aid for children as well as for visual and environmental control. The campus consists of two independently functioning departments: the Learning Centre and the Community Centre. The Learning Centre houses learning pods, activity spaces, and administrative spaces. The learning pods and activity zones together form the School Block – a free-flowing expanse divided as per activity and usage, rather than typical age-based divisions. These permeable spaces, or ‘pods,’ comprise the ‘makers’ zone, the cognitive zone, reading and story-telling spaces, and art zones; situated peripherally are the music hall, the drama theatre, and the dance studio. The Community Centre houses daycare facilities as well as research spaces for early years education methodologies.

The design is also sensitive to the emotional needs of children and provides cosy nooks for solitary use that can be used for silent reading, individual play, or simply to withdraw from time to time.  The two-storey structure is devoid of sharp lines and stark profiles, favouring curved profiles to envelope the interconnected ‘learning pods’; the undulating façade envelope also provides subtle cues for movement within the campus. A pergola with louvred edges forms the secondary envelope to the built form at the ground level, loosely following the building line and creating free-flowing circulation spaces below. The timber-and-white-plaster material palette continues in the interiors, creating a warm and congruous spatial experience with minimal physical or visual barriers; free-standing acoustic partitions and distinct ceiling and wall patterns mark the boundaries of each zone, building visual recognition skills among students without creating boxed-in spaces. Activity zones, whether indoors or outdoors, have been equipped with a variety of play structures to enhance kinesthetic intelligence. A highly tactile spatial experience combined with an open design format incorporated into the reconfigurable equipment encourages children to assemble play structures of their own imagination mindfully.