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Walls, floors and roofs become not just shelter but double as spaces for play

Friedrich Froebel, the inventor of the kindergarten was perhaps the first to realise the potential of using a chid's natural inclination for play for learning, creating a series of play objects, which he called the 'gifts and occupations' (see post for more here).

It was a revolutionary concept, implying that the child might use what was presented to them to self-improve, to create, explore and test their physical capabilities; and thus grow and learn.

Almost 200 years later and architects are continuing to embrace the concept, infusing elements of play into the architecture of their early childhood environments.

Anansi Playground Building / Mulders vandenBerk Architecten

Walls may provide a surface for children to express their creative talents - becoming a changing piece of art in the process.

Kindergarten Kekec/Architektura Jure Kotnik

Or they may provide moveable elements: "as the children manipulate the colourful wooden planks they get to know different colours, experience wood as a natural material and constantly change the appearance of their kindergaten, all at the same time."

Mirror House Kindergarten - a whole new way to look at play

The Mirror House, by MLRP Architects reflects - literally - the play of children. 

Born from the land is a centre that nurtures and delights this small NZ community

Following my previous (not long ago) post - I have some more stunning photographs for you of the recently completed Ngati Hine Childcare centre in Kawakawa, New Zealand. (Thanks to the designer Phil Smith and photographer Simon Devitt)!

I contacted Phil for some advice when I first started researching the architectural environments for early childhood - and he gave me some very good advice:

"the key thing is scale and a balance of intimacy and openness. Things should be designed to the scale of the child rather than the adult, and spaces both inside and out should allow little nooks for children who prefer quiet time. Nature is also a key part - playgrounds should be full of interesting (preferably native) plants and materials...The other thing that gets overlooked is cultural context - kids at this age are sponges and will absorb anything, yet we give them dull lifeless buildings."

Here Phil has achieved just this - balancing a sense of openness with enclosure while providing a community with a place with a unique identity to call their own.

A play experience for children and the public alike that goes further than your standard swing set

Blaxland Riverside Park in Sydney, Australia is a new playscape designed by JMD Design that goes much, much further than your standard playground set.

Landscaped mounds with varying textures and carefully selected colours are combined with metal slides, climbing structures, tunnels and balancing discs,working seamlessly to provide children with the tools to test their physical cabilities and capture their imaginations.


site by Ana Degenaar