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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."

Dragen House/Moller Architects

Floors may become roofs, creating extended outdoor landscapes for play.

Skanderborggade Day-Care Centre/ Dorte Mandrup

For sliding, running or sitting...

Fuji Kindergarten/Tezuka Architects

Fuji Kindergarten utilising even steps and a slide rather than a conventional staircase to connect the roof-scape play area with the ground-floor central play area.

Left: and right: Escuela Infantil Pablo Neruda / Rueda Pizarro

Walls may provide any number of windows in varying shapes and sizes to invite different types of interaction and connection with the outdoors.

MAGK + illiz architektur/Maria Enzersdorf  Childcare Centre

And when deeply inset - may provide smaller "nooks" for children to sit and reflect and take time out from the action.

Children’s Museum of the Arts/Work Architecture Company

Hallways may become rope nets and stairs a slide!

Left: Yuyu-No-Mori Nursery School and right: Houtoku Kindergarten/Environment Design Institute

A large atrium space gets fully utilised in the Yuyu-No-Mori Nursery in Japan - where the children may play among the nets above the heads of their classmates.

Tromso Kindergarten/70N Arkitektura

Flexible internal walls may cater for a variety of functions, separating space, creating miniature spaces within, and offering a number of experiences within one larger space.

Olifantsvlei Preschool/Students

A building's form may even become a giant piece of play equipment - inviting children to climb and interact with it.

Taka-Tuka-Land/Die Baupiloten

Likewise, the Taka-Tuka-Land Kindergarten transforms a rather dull building with an exploding facade which becomes a climbing frame.

Taka-Tuka-Land/Die Baupiloten

Here a window interacts playfully with the incoming sunlight, creating a glittering and magical experience for the children playing inside.

Children thrive on challenges and will make the most of any environment presented to them. It is exciting to witness therefore, architects who are re-imagining how early childhood architecture might better repsond to the child who will grasp any opportunity to play.

All images taken from pinboard 'Children's Architecture'.



site by Ana Degenaar