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An architecture of adventure

This centre’s architecture illustrates the child’s need to actively explore and interact with their environment, creating a sense of adventure, and testing the child’s physical and imaginative abilities.

The Castle Child Care Centre, designed by Ton Venhoeven, in Souest, Netherlands in 1993 is perceived as a “day-care landscape” (Dudek, 2005: xvi).  

The interior environment - ramps, bridges, “hut-like” dens, different sized windows and openings, and a number of textural and lighting qualities combine to create an adventurous and challenging ‘landscape’ for the children. 

Venhoeven deliberately incorporated ramps terraces, and level changes encouraging children to climb and explore, just as they would do in a natural landscape.

He also “tapped into” his own early memories of childhood as inspiration when developing the design, using as inspiration a memory of a wide rambling garden around his house which had a large wooden boat marooned there, here he would play in it, around it, and underneath it.

The entrance, which is open guides the visitor into the various spaces.

This initial inspiration led to the creation of an architecture for the children that provides them many ‘affordances’ (Heft, 1988) to test and develop their physical, mental and social skills.

The kitchen and ‘common core’ of the centre. Here you can see the elevated platforms or stages - offering the children a space to play and ‘perform’ on.

Sections through the building show the variety of spaces the centre has to offer the children for a multitude of spatial experiences.

Via DaF Architecten, Children's Spaces by Mark Dudek and VenhoevenCS.


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