Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Vienna Kindergarten

During Expo 67, some 3200 children attended the Vienna Kindergarten.

Located on Île-Sainte-Hélène near the China pavilion, the Vienna Kindergarten looked like a collection of giant red, green, yellow and brown building blocks with huge circular or half moon windows and skylights.

Sponsored by the city of Vienna, the building was designed by Karl Schwanzer, who was also responsible for the Austrian pavilion at Expo 67.

Pre-selected groups of 10 children, aged 3 to 6 and spanning all cultures, spent 2-week periods at the kindergarten. On a first-come, first serve basis, another 20 children could be accommodated daily, at an entry fee $2.50 per half-day, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Using the Montessori method, the Vienna Kindergarten at Expo 67 was a replica of one of more than 200 in the Austrian capital. Under discreet supervision by multilingual Austrian teachers, children's creative processes and problem-solving abilities were nurtured through a fascinating variety of activities: painting, drawing, building... whatever struck their fancy.

Most importantly, it was the child who decided what to do and how to do it.

A miniature cooking area in the brightly-lit playroom included a low-heat stove with tiny saucepans where various edible mixtures could be prepared. A large sunken area was devoted to water, where children could happily splash themselves. A spacious grassy playground included a sandbox, swings, and various modern playground equipment.

images: (1-5) personal collection
(3) Dixon Slide Collection (
(4) Bill Cotter Collection

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