About Lily Peled

Peled Architects was founded by Lily Peled, a Tel Aviv University graduate (B.Arch) and a licensed architect with more than 14 years of experience during which she gained considerable experience in planning educational facilities employing innovative educational theories.

Sign up for the Magazine!

I occasionally send out articles and updates from the Magazine about educational spaces. Feel like meeting me there?

Latest Articles

It seems we can't find what you're looking for.

קטגוריות הבלוג:

קטגוריות הפוסט

Stadtpark kindergarten - Architect Martin Kohlbauer

Martin Kohlbauer – A story of a genius Architect.

Architect Lily Peled

Imagine… what if you were a musician living in 2023 and you had the opportunity to meet, say, John Lenon?

Ok, you would first need a time machine. Assuming you somehow shrug off this tiny snag, you’d still have to set the dials to the right place and time, try really hard not to land right on top of him, and then hope he isn’t late for a recording session that he’d be willing to talk to some stranger coming out of a weird machine. Let’s just say the odds are not in your favour.

But what if I told you that you could still meet Mccartney, or Ringo starr, just for one hour? How excited would you be on a scale of 1 to literal shivers?

That’s pretty much how I felt in my last visit to Vienna interviewing Architect Martin Kohlbauer.

The entrance to the building is an open space from which you can also see the sky. Photo By: Rupert Steiner

A story of a genius Architect

Kohlbauer had won so many prizes and competitions, some international, that his trophies need more storage than an average Boeing 747. He is a genius architect that has been working over the years on a variety of different projects and presented in numerous exhibitions. He also has a long history with Jewish heritage, including his designs for the Jewish history museum – such as the ‘German-Jewish Stories from Lower Saxony’.

Through his innovative approach for planning educational facilities, he has changed the way of thinking when it comes to planning and designing for children. One key example (which is also my personal favourite) is the Stadpark kindergarten competition, located in an Iconic city park area in the center of Vienna and demonstrating an innovative design with a new pedagogical educational theme.

For these reasons it was truly a privilege for me to meet him in his office in Vienna and interview him for my magazine as part of my series of interviews with leading architects of educational facilities around the world.

Stadpark kindergarten sketch – Architect Martin Kohlbauer

An old-fashioned architectural Atelier

Kohlbauers’ firm is ‘’an old-fashioned architectural Atelier’’ as he calls it. It is located in a historical theater building and this theatrical magic is strongly resonating with your soul as you enter his beautiful office.

The first thing you notice as you enter Kohlbauer’s office is the multitude of sketches covering every inch of the walls. Drawing Sketches and doing the architectural site analysis properly and with great care for details are the cornerstones of the architectural work process, he explained as we sat down.  The kindergarten in Stadpark is a great example for a good site analysis: It looks the way it does precisely because it is located in a park.

A green pavilion within a green park - Photo By: Rupert Steiner

Kohlbauers' childhood - from periphery to city of the future

Being in the site is the key for planning. I’ve never designed a building without being in the site. The location of the project is also where I get most of the inspiration.
Each project is unique, you’ll see that some of my projects have floral forms, some have straight lines. And of course, there’s also the theme of the project, and educational themes implemented in my projects”   Kohlbauer explains.

Outdoor spaces are equally important as the indoor spaces - Photo By: Rupert Steiner

This attention to details and sensitivity to the surrounding world is not something acquired overnight. It takes years to sharpen these abilities.

“When I was a child, I didn’t go to kindergarten, I was home until school age. Schools were these big public buildings from the 19th century. They had long corridors and classrooms. The neighborhood I grew up in was periphery, it was at the edge of the city and there was nothing there, only this truck garage. My parents lived in a social housing building, 1 km from the center. After the first 4 years I went to the gymnasium school, where I learned English.

When I was 10, I had an art teacher called Arminio Rothstein, a Jewish holocaust survivor. Rothstein was also a funny & famous actor, writer, musician and magician. He had established his own “Fadenbühne im Künstlerhaus”( String Puppet Theatre in the Artist’s Home) and created the  Puppet Cabaret (“Marionetten-Cabaret”) for Austrian Television in 1960”.

“This teacher gave us an assignment – To plan the city of the future, and when he looked at what I had planned he said ‘’Martin, you have to be an architect”. From that moment in time, I was an architect.”

An open space from which you can see the sky - Photo By: Rupert Steiner

Viennese legendary Architects

As a young architect, before establishing his own firm, Kohlbauer got to work with well-known architects. When I asked him what were the most important things he had learned from them and have influenced his work he suddenly grows quiet.

“I worked with 2 important architects. One of them, the Viennese architect Gunther Wawrik, who has recently passed away. Gunther had very interesting projects and that was the reason I wanted to work there.

The other one was my teacher Gustav Peichl who planned the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn and gave me the opportunity to lead that project. It was very important for me to have such a big museum, this was my master piece before I had my own firm.

Gustav had a very easygoing approach to architecture, it was very practical and yet a fantasy. This was an important part in my career and was also part of my studies at the academy of fine arts in Vienna.

Another important architectural insight i’ve learned from both of these great architects is the scale. Architecture is meant for humans, and the human scale in architecture – how the human body relates itself to the architectural form – is a key architectural element”.  

Coper as a material, the form of the building is like a leaf - Photo By: Rupert Steiner

Childhood recollections in relation with the creative work process

When Kohlbauer talks about his childhood experience there’s a mischievous glint to his eye. When he talks about designing for humans you can implicitly see how much of his attention and devotion is directed towards the younger generations. The emotions and softness emerging from his childhood recollections are being poured back into his creative process.

A green pavilion within a green park - Photo By: Rupert Steiner

The most important thing about planning and designing for children is remembering that I was also a child.’’ He says smiling.

“In projects just as in Exhibitions – I’m the first visitor of the exhibition! Therefore, I’m always the first inhabitant of my work. School is so important for children because children don’t only learn from their teachers, they also learn from their surroundings.

Small children have a different point of view of space but in general it’s not so different than planning for adults. You’ll also notice that my projects for children are not so colorful as opposed to many other architects planning for children and believing it should be very colorful.

 Children need to have nice spaces in which they can go in from one side and come out of the other side.  That’s what they love to do! And they need to have a variety of different spaces that give them different experiences, indoors and outdoors. It every project, in every scale, the space needs to give you a variety of experiences, of sight lines, of ways it captures the scenery. What’s important is how people move in these different spaces and how this movement makes them experience the architecture. That’s the reason it’s hard to capture Architecture only through pictures. The best way to truly experience architecture is to physically be there.

Different spaces that give children different experiences - Photo By: Rupert Steiner

An innovative pedagogical educational theme

In the first Stadpark Kindergarten competition there were roughly a 100(!) projects who entered and didn’t win.  In the second competition held, Kohlbauer’s project won the 1st place, proving to be the most innovative design with the most novel pedagogical educational theme. Kohlbauer elaborates about his approach for planning educational facilities”

Outdoor spaces are equally important as the indoor spaces - Photo By: Rupert Steiner

“Vienna has a long tradition in educational buildings. The traditional kindergartens were planned between 1st and 2nd world war. This architectural typology is also known as Vienna Rossa (the ‘socialist monument’ of ‘Red Vienna’ between 1919 to 1939). My inspiration in planning my first school in 1992 was a very simple shape with a lot of outdoor space. The inspiration for my work was the dutch Architect Jan Duiker who in 1925 planed the first open air school. Duiker understood the outdoor spaces are equally important as the indoor spaces. The connection between indoors and outdoors is a key element in the way I plan educational facilities.”

The connection between indoors and outdoors is a key element- Photo By: Rupert Steiner

The innovative pedagogical theme of the Stadpark kindergarten was that for the first time the government wanted an innovative educational approach which allows children freedom to choose. Instead of having a strict division of the children into classrooms’, the theme was to have open groups of children, in a variety of ages, all in the same building.”

A green pavilion within a green park

How do you translate this pedagogical idea into architecture? That’s Kohlbauers genius: He understood that the main goal should be that children’s movement between the different open spaces would be flowing. None of the other projects in the first part of the competition had accomplished implementing this pedagogical idea which was the essence of the project.

The building has two floors and there are 9 groups, the children have the choice to can go wherever they want to, in this new pedagogical system.

Sun light & shadow create a different kind of magic during the day the spaces flow into one another and the big windows give children exciting visual perspectives to the beautiful yard and park surrounding the building. 

Located in Stadpark(city park) in the inner stadt - the historic 1st district of Vienna - Photo By: Rupert Steiner

Kohlbauer explains the unique choice of coper as a material in this project by reminding me that the form of the building is like a leaf. He wanted the structure to also have a shade of green in the park, albeit a slightly different one. A green pavilion within a green park.

A revolutionary pedaginogical theme in reality

The innovative pedagogical idea that Kohlbaur talked about, struck me as revolutionary not just as an architect myself but also as a mother of four.  I wondered how children of different ages and backgrounds share the same building in groups that are not separated? How do the teachers keep track of where the children are? Does this actually work in reality?

Spaces in which they children can go in from one side and come out of the other - Photo By: Rupert Steiner

In order to answer all these questions, I met with Mrs Judith Ruzek, the vice leader at the kindergarten, who gave me a tour in the building and presented the educational principles behind this project.

The kindergarten opened in 2013, currently 189 children are enrolled in it. It has 9 groups that are usually between 20-25 children, all from the same district in Vienna and are between the ages of 0-10 years. The number of teachers per group varies according to age. This educational complex also integrates disabled children and the pedagogical staff is enhanced to support that.

Ground floor plan - Architect Martin Kohlbaur

At the entrance there is a small architectural model of the building, and the entrance leads you to a beautiful high-ceiling open space from which you can also see the sky. There are fire doors for safety reasons, these doors are only closed between 12:00-14:00 during the break time, in which the children are required to stay in their space so that they can have an opportunity for some quite time and a rest.  Apart from that there is no educational need for these doors to be closed.

The magic of this complex is that it gives children a variety of spaces for a variety of activites – playing with magic sand and materials, a quiet sleeping area, sliding from one floor to another, and many other interesting spaces.

The rooms are well adjusted to the functions the serve. There is a kitchen and a dining area that inspires the taste buds, a beautiful art room that inspires the imagination and creativity, a quiet room that allows the eyes and mind to rest and an activity room with a huge slide going from one floor to another that stimulates to you action.


The concept is that the children are able to switch between the groups and each group has a different environment. The children can move freely everywhere. That center has a system of special signs that the children use so that the teachers know where they are at any given moment.

Located in Stadpark(city park) in the inner stadt - the historic 1st district of Vienna - Photo By: Rupert Steiner

How do you cope with places in which children can hide?

“We keep an eye on the children. The space is designed so that we can notice whether there’s an argument between two children or if there’s a specific problem and we intervene and talk to them about it. “

Storage is always a very important element in education facilities and you can see here how all the rooms have different types of storage, planed very cleverly for a variety of different needs. This enables the spaces themselves to emanate a feeling of size and spaciousness for the children to play in.

The teachers here are very open-minded; they talk to the children a lot and help them learn how to communicate in a positive way with each other. Even though there are 189 children, it seems quiet because there are simply so many different activities the children can engage and different spaces they can absorb themselves into.

The mixture of groups also enables children to have friends from different age groups and enrich their social circle beyond that of their classmates.


“The children that go to school come back here, they can do their homework and they have free time until 16-17 pm. The first floor is for children between the ages of 0-6 years. At the entrance to every 2 classes you have a room to store shoes, coats and bags.”

In conclusion…

Frank Lloyd Wright was quoted saying that “form and function should be one – joined in a spiritual union.” The Stadpark kindergarten teaches us exactly that and is a perfect example of how implementing an innovative pedagogical idea into architecture and design creates a wonderous environment for children.

If you want to read more about Kohlbauers marvelous projects, this is his firms’ website, he has also published 2 books, one is ‘Martin Kohlbauer – Buildings and Projects 1992-2005’  and the more recent one published 7 years ago – ‘Martin Kohlbauer  A Viennese Architect’.

Martin Kohlbauer and myself in his beautiful office - Photo by Architect Lily Peled

More Articles

Sign up for the Magazine!

I occasionally send out articles and updates from the Magazine about educational spaces. Feel like meeting me there?

That’s it! You’ve read it all! We’d love to hear what you think.