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A small yet boldly inviting centre in Japan that uses an existing building

Japanese (and early childhood specialist) architects HIBINOSEKKEI and Youji no Shiro are at it again with the MK-S Nursery - a small (160sqm) centre that inhabits an existing residence and disused 2-storey shop.

Restoring the existing fabric of the building with new ply internal linings and a perforated "starry" metal screen with house and square shaped windows the result is a tidy and yet fun new building for the community's young children.

The low-grade (so cheap) plywood lining walls are thickly framed - allowing deep silled windows to sit in/on and for dividing walls to contain functional storage.

Note the deep sills in which kids can climb up onto and look out at the street. The "hidden" door clad in the same ply and made flush is a clever detail also.

The palette is simple - with ply lining, some painted with shades of blue, engineered timber flooring and plasterboard ceilings - yet rich and warm.

It is a fine example of how to convert an existing dwelling with seemingly little effort into a rich and inviting space for young children.

Via TrendHunter.

A school in Brazil that embodies the idea of the architecture as playing a vital role in learning

The Wish School in Brazil serving children aged 2 to 4 years of age is passionate about children's' learning - and has, since January been awarded by the Edumission Challenge as one of the 10 most innovative educational institutions in the world.

Spaces of welcome and retreat or reflection are included.

"Education is a process of transformation, of inner growth, in which we discover the world around us and the world discovers us as well. Education is an exchange, a subjective process lived in the moment in which each one perceives himself learning something new"   (Eduardo Shimahara)

Their belief is that education must be approached holistically - that is encompassing all elements of the individual child - emotional, social, cultural, creative, physical and spiritual. 

It was thus important for the environment (or architecture) to reflect or or enable the educators and students to "act out" and inhabit this vision to its full potential.

Rotational furniture "pods" inhabit many functions - from dividing space to containing storage and elements of play (with curtains for puppet shows).

The architects collaborated with both students and teachers to define the brief and ensure the architecture reflects their powerful pedagogy.

Designed by Grupo Garoa Architects the resulting architecture is a unique example of an intensive collaboration between the educator and their pedagogy (or educational vision), the children (or students) themselves and the designers.

Careful consideration was paid to the building's transitional spaces (i.e. inside to outside) - creating memorable experiences when traveling from one space to another.

A variety of textural surfaces and materials are used indoors and out to enrich the childrens' learning.

The architects worked within an existing shed-like and industrial building "container" - in which to "house" the pedagogical elements of "rooms" or room-dividing elements. Rather than using traditional walls, ceiling and floors, zones were created through the use of informal furnishing "pods" which are cleverly fixed to the building's structural beams and are allowed to move or rotate as the spatial needs of the spaces are determined.

Natural lighting is used to its fullest potential through the use of internal courtyards and atriums with skylights over.

A variety of spaces cater for all types of learning - from group collective work to more individual or quiet.

Physical and social interaction is encouraged with the diverse spatial arrangements, the many connecting stairs and atriums and blurred internal to external boundaries (with bountiful natural gardens, natural light wells, and courtyards).

Via ArchDaily.

A new centre in Brooklyn is delicately designed to feel like an extension of the home

Pale maple timber, blank white walls (to take the children's' art) and spots of colour all work together at this preschool situated on the second floor of a new tower to create a cohesive and calming space which does in fact feel like an extension of one's home.

Three classrooms catering 16 children each are arranged linearly with sliding pocket doors connecting each. At the end of this arrangement is a multi-purpose shared space housing a flexible "food-truck like" kitchen which hosts a daily "cafe-time".

Semi-open bathrooms are positioned between the classrooms with surfaces covered in porcelain-tiled grey-muted blues and greens.

Inter-connected sinks, one of which cantilevers out to the classroom makes for a nifty water-feature and easy clean-up after messy eating or games.

The architects, Alexandra Barker (of BFDO Architects) and Priya Patel (of 4|MATIV) won over the existing Maple School (who were looking to expand their premises) and developers of the tower Hudson with their proposal that reflected the centres' ethos of being an "extension of the home".

"Where co-operation and involvement are emphasised, where each child is nurtured in a warm and caring atmosphere and where curiosity and play are central to learning."

It is truly comforting to see steps being made away from the institutional and towards architecture that nurture their young inhabitants.

Via Dezeen, Architects Newspaper and Metropolis.

Castle & Cubby

It was the kindergarten pioneer Friedrich Froebel who noted (in 1893) “play [as] the highest phase of child development”. Going on to elaborate that “play at this time is not trivial, it is highly serious and of deep significance… The plays of childhood are the germinal leaves of all later life.”

It is a notion that is often ignored (or forgotten) as lives get busier and “free-time” is spent sitting in front of some “techy” device. It is promising therefore that there are those who are beginning to rise against allowing this new “norm” - with movements popping up such as forest or “outdoor” schools, adventure parks and playgrounds, and in the creation of back-yard “cubbies” such as these picturesque examples by Melbourne-based ‘Castle and Cubby’.

Kellie and Jonathan Stores began their ‘Castle & Cubby’ business when pregnant with their second child and were inspired to create sustainable (so no bright plastics!) products for their little people with BIG imaginations.

Above, a farmers market inspired cubby.

Made from (mostly) recycled apple crates, their products aim to inspire kids’ imaginations by providing a space for them to mimic the world they live in. Having two young ones means they are constantly inspired as they watch the real-life games enacted by their kids - they are always creating, designing and testing new ideas in the backyard.

As Kellie says: “We are passionate about creating spaces not just for children but for families to connect and be reminded of what good old fashioned outdoor fun is.” Activities that inspire sharing, role-playing, interacting, creating stories and dreams. The cubbies, whilst each being uniquely hand-crafted have taken the form of farmer’s market producers to grocery shopkeepers and baristas, beach ice-cream carts and more.

The "Story Pod" is a simple yet clever black box that folds itself out to reveal a trove of books

Here sits the Story Pod - a shining example of how architecture (even small and simple as this) may impact a community - providing pockets of space within the urban framework that invite interaction, rest and contemplation.

Conceived as a community project, the Story Pod is an inventive gathering spot for learning and engagement created by the efforts of both private and public supporters.  Atelier Kasteli Buffey completed the architecture and design pro bono. HollisWealth provided funds for construction, while Scholastic Publishing and the Newmarket Public Library supplied the initial collection of books.

Simple boxes are layered to create seats and nooks for inhabiting. 

The simple material palette of clear oil stained ply and lumber sits in contrast with its black exterior.

Traditional board and batten is made modern with sleeker battens at closer spacings. Made wider where glazing offers views to the books inside.

Simple, yet well considered and detailed. These simple insertions into our built environment for all ages to enjoy provide places not just spaces.

Via Dwell.

A clever and sensitive adaptation of existing buildings into community spaces to be enjoyed by young and old

Designed by FON STUDIO in China, Town Folktales is the first installment of the regeneration of a collection of old 1950s buildings that used to contain a printing plant.

The first two old brick and tile buildings have been cleverly and sensitively re-imagined with a restrained yet bold language of curving white forms and geometric insertions (void and extrusions) playfully adapting the empty space into zones catering to a variety of uses.

Building (or Depot) A's entry features a bold white curving geometric framed form complete with wall-light and signage.

Building (or Depot) B's entry features a square black framed extrusion with green accent internally..

The open and flexible architectural programme include spaces designed for dining, reading and creative activity for the community. 

Love the ribbon-like laminated timber panelling curving around the walls to form bench seating, window shading, book display and cupboard storage.

Book shelving is integrated with the drop-down ceiling bulkhead helping to frame the space, whilst being semi-transparent to allow light and visual hints to permeate through

Folding sleek black steel framed joinery is used to subtly divide space internally.

Materially (and aged) woods are pared wtih contemporary laminated timbers and smooth white plaster.

Overall, Fon Studio have created a winning space for this Chinese Community that is inclusive of all (young and old) whilst protecting and giving new life to a collection of existing and un-used buildings.


site by Ana Degenaar