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Why Are Office Buildings Wary of Nursery Schools?

Article January 24, 2020


Employees long for them, but employers are in no rush to found nursery schools in their office buildings. The benefit nurseries provide comes along with high demands, and it’s also impossible to set up a nursery within every office building. And yet exceptions do exist – and we’ve visited three of them.

Opening a nursery school in a Czech office building isn’t easy, and it requires close cooperation between the developer, the architect, and the future operator of the nursery right from the start of the project. After all, the Ministry of Education has strict requirements for nurseries’ operation, and these are hard to meet in a building whose major purpose is elsewhere.

Story #1

The private bilingual nursery school in Florentinum, Prague 1

Opening year: 2014

This British nursery in Florentinum provides bilingual education to preschoolers of ages 2 and up. It has been in operation since 2014, when this office complex was completed. Today it is attended by 42 children, who can make use of spaces both inside the building and in the school’s garden in the interior block with grown trees.

“One prerequisite for even opening up a nursery in an office building is cooperation between the nursery’s management and the developer and architect of the given building and interior. Educational spaces for children are justifiably subject to high standards from the Czech Ministry of Education, and it typically is impossible to adapt office spaces to serve as them after the fact. The key points are sufficiently bright interiors and suitable spaces for children’s time spent outdoors,” describes Klára Grunsberg, the director of the Florentinum’s nursery school.

“For the owner of the British nursery and day care center, Tielc, as a part of their Alfa – Company Nursery project, we prepared a custom design, and the final facility then truly was created according to this design. Our cooperation with the team from Penta Real Estate was superb, just as with the architect Petr Hlaváček from Headhand Architects, who prepared our nursery for us. Thanks to all this, we were able to meet all the conditions for opening it up within the Florentinum office complex,” states Grunsberg.

Story #2

The private bilingual nursery school in Visionary, Prague 7

Opening year: 2018

This nursery school is operated by the Prague 7 city district. It is currently attended by 48 children, of which 39 are from Prague 7 and the remaining 9 are children of employees at companies residing in Visionary. The nursery’s spaces within this office building were set aside by the real estate developer Skanska Property upon agreement with Prague 7.

“As a part of our preparations of the nursery school’s spaces, we had to take into account the special requirements for its operation. This primarily meant separate entrances for the two classrooms, hygiene requirements, and the supplying and heating of food for the children. We worked on how to provide natural ventilation via openable windows within a fully air-conditioned building, and how to shield the glass facade to protect the children’s safety,” lists off Tereza Ciglerová from Jakub Cigler Architects, who designed these classrooms.

One sticking point was the roof of the garage ramp, which separated the space for the future classrooms into a smaller and a larger part. But this problem as well was overcome after agreement with the nursery’s future operator, and they built a theater with a stage and auditorium upon the ramp. “I think it works quite well, and that a handicap has been made an advantage. Any other tenant would have tried and tried to put something there, and it probably would have ended up as storage spaces,” Ciglerová adds.

Monika Nezbedová, the director of the nursery at Visionary, also praises her cooperation with the architects right at the start of the project: “One huge advantage when setting up the nursery in this office building was our cooperation with the planners and architects at the project’s very beginnings. The rooms’ layout and internal arrangement can be directly adapted to meet the demands of applicable legislation and the latest trends in preschool education. We’re enthused by the beautiful interior and the new equipment. We do, however, perceive as a problem the lack of space for children’s time outdoors. This, too, is something that needs to be kept in mind when setting up a nursery in an office building.”

Story #3

The Watík Company Nursery at BB Centrum, Prague 4

Opening year: 2017

The Watík company nursery has been in operation at the Prague headquarters of the ČEZ Group since February of 2017 as a pilot project of this energy company. It can accommodate 24 children of ages 1 and up (and thus partially serves as a day care center). Watík is open year-round, including during summer vacation.

According to ČEZ press representative Alice Horáková, the preparation phase for Watík’s founding lasted about one year. “When we were choosing a company for preparing and operating this nursery, we set having the option of combining internal and external financing as one of our priorities. The company we chose also helped us with arranging everything needed for acquiring finances from European funds. Through them, we also acquired the finances we needed for adapting earmarked spaces in one of our buildings and managed to prepare everything so as to meet the strict criteria,” she stated.

“The support that we had from a board member was absolutely key for handling this phase successfully. The adaptation of the spaces after this so as to meet the legal requirements for educational facilities lasted about 5 months,” said Horáková in closing.

Besides the interior spaces in the office building where ČEZ has its headquarters, Watík also has its own small garden in the interior block with play equipment (a slide, a sandbox, and a jungle gym). It additionally is located nearby two public parks.