Nestled within the 120-acre tract of the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center, the new preschool facility promotes wonder and exploration of the natural world and cultivates a sense of stewardship toward our community and environment.
Imagined as an extension of the network of trails throughout the preserve, the preschool is organized along a central “learning trail” spine. Light-filled classroom spaces alternate with a series of open and covered porches that open out into the natural woodlands beyond.
The butterfly roof structure and operable windows allow for ample daylight and natural ventilation in appropriate seasons to increase sustainable, lower energy operation of the building. Biophilic design principles reinforce the connection to nature, with exposed local yellow pine throughout, and direct outdoor views in all spaces. Consistent with the mission of the Kreher Nature Preserve, all storm–water will be managed naturally on site. Potable water use is significantly reduced through grey water management, with rainwater collected from the butterfly roofs and used for flushing toilets.
Constructed from timber harvested on-site, the preschool celebrates the potential of wood – aesthetically, economically, and environmentally. The preschool will incorporate cross laminated timber (CLT) produced in nearby Dothan, Alabama with loblolly pine from the site as a demonstration of this new, sustainable building product with great potential for Alabama’s forestry-based industries. Exposed natural wood ceilings, walls, floors and open decks make sustainable forestry a tangible part of this outdoor based school experience. The building will be supported on wood piles, avoiding the use of concrete and further minimizing the embodied carbon of the project.