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Colour in wallpaper!


What a fantastic idea. Designed by Jon Burgerman (via).

Planting ideas, growing minds - is the idea behind toy brand "seedling"


The ethos behind NZ-owned and based toy company Seedling reflects the Kindergarten pedagogy that children learn through "play" or by partaking in creative activity. Alternatively, founder and owner Phoebe Hayman stresses that every child has ideas waiting to be explored, which echoes Reggio's philosophy of the "rich child" that has "many languages".

Founded in 2006, Phoebe being a hands-on Playcentre mum noticed that children if left to their own devices, preferred real tools over toys every time. Suddenly noticing a gap in the market: "You used to be able to go out into the neighbourhood with your friends and climb trees or whatever. But it's not like that now" (Mindfood, April 2011: p49). Thus Phoebe set out to create a series of products that provided children (and parents) with the tools to realise their creative potential in a single neat pack.

What started as four kits based on cooking, gardening, painting and outdoor exploration, has quickly expanded to over 250 products for a range of ages - from a kit making baby hand prints to a kit for designing a solar-powered plane.

A Reggio inspired centre in Australia considers the experiences of the child in more ways than one

Designed by Towill Design Group, Reggio-inspired Brisbane-based St Pauls Kindergarten derives out of the centres' ethos that celebrates the child and his or hers thoughts, ideas and way of perceiving the world.

Every design decision considers the child.

The architects not only worked with the staff when tackling the new build, but involved the children who explored ideas through drawing.

The children's drawn ideas for their new EC centre are displayed on the windows, which wrap around the entire building.

The centre is deliberately situated within close proximity to the Primary School, thus easing the transition for the child from kindergarten to school.

The classroom employes a number of techniques to delineate the space and it's functional use. A large circular mat encourages the children to sit and play together informally, while tables are set up which focus on a particular task. The space is kept flexible with moveable furniture and partitions.

A surving relic of the 1900s progressives: Preshill School

Founded in Melbourne, Australia in the early 1930s, the privately run Preshill - The Margaret Lyttle Memorial School is a surviving experiment in progressive education.

The school started as a small cottage founded by a woman called Margaret Lyttle and moved to its current site in 1938. At the time the structure was a fairly typical upper middle class suburban house. However, many physical changes occurred over the next 44 years.

This extract from an article in the design observer by a long-time member of the school community sums up the school's somewhat contradictory formal and informal growth, resulting in a rich learning environment;

"It's the informality of it, coupled with complexity. Change in the school is almost always organic... There's a sense of evolution, of things being updated. If there's a tree, a building will twist itself around it...The school seems to have succeeded in allowing what was there 50 years ago to still be apparent". 

Formal changes include the numerous classrooms, a hall, later retreat rooms and lastly - an upper floor library; each of which required conscious thought and planning. Yet additional to this have been the every-day informal (or even subconscious) changes: Plants, winding pathways, built huts, play equipment, animal pens, and even an underground air-raid shelter, which later became underground huts and mud pits. All a result of the ebb and flow of every-day school life.

Help Norman Brosterman republish 'Inventing Kindergarten'

Norman Brosterman's book 'Inventing Kindergarten' was a key source and inspiration for me when writing 'The Architecture of Early Childhood'. And now he needs our help.

See his video (above) and go to Kickstarter to help Brosterman fund and bring back a fine and still very much relevant revelation into the revolutionary Froebel 'Kindergarten' education.

The book, illustrated beautifully (like the above image shows) tells the compelling story of the birth of the 'kindergarten' and draws links between it's education methods and the following influential 'modern' era. In fact, giving evidence that suggests Kindergarten was a key driver in providing the inspiration and tools for much of the modern art and architecture to be realised (such as Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture).

The book is interesting, captivating and beautifully presented and written. I wish Brosterman the best of luck in reaching his goal. 

Via Robbin Brosterman and Kickstarter.

Innovative educational concepts must be coupled with designs that are inviting, stimulating and versatile. They should offer places to learn, play, or escape the fray

An excellent introduction (above) to Detail's latest issue DETAIL Concept 3/2013 which focuses on the architecture for children. Exploring pedagogy, architectural typologies and contemporary exemplary case studies – the projects range from small facilities located in garden settings to large school buildings in a dense urban fabric.

I MUST get my hands on a copy - in the mean time here is a snippet view of what's inside....

The cover (left) illustrates an array of school spatial arrangement - ranging from sporadic or town-like compositions, dynamic or regular linear arrangements or with classrooms surrounding a central core.


The introduction (right) describes traditional school design which follows a strict standardized approach (of functional zones, circulation, safety and fire regulations etc) rather than exploring spatial and aesthetic qualities or the influence of colour and light on children's learning experiences; an approach which leads to rather dull and monotonous environments.

Today, education pedagogy is moving away from frontal forms of tuition and focusing on more autonomous, interactive and collaborative learning processes, a characteristic of the revolutionary and radical early childhood pedagogies. Today, schools are beginning to take a leaf out of the early childhood facilities - providing spaces that inspire physical, imaginative and collaborative learning activities.

Kindergarten and Primary School in Saint-Denis, designed by AAVP Architects.

Materiality and colour

Above is a Kindergarten and Primary School in Saint-Denis, which is situated on a former factory site in the north of Paris. In contrast to this somewhat neglected district, the school, with its golden outer face of perforated sheet aluminum and a cladding of larch strips and turned wooden members, resembles a precious jewellery box. The architects wished to stress the social significance of the structure through a striking, carefully designed facade that would recall oriental-Arabian mashrabiyas.

Svet vmes = utilising the spaces in-between

I love the philosophy behind svet vmes, a young architectural practice that transform poorly designed educational and working environments; thus utilising the spaces in-between.

I have selected a few of my favourite projects to showcase and was fortunate enough to interview the group, who have shared with us their inspiration, passion and experiences of designing for our younger population.

INTERACTIVE STREET, Šenčur Primary School, Šenčur, Slovenia, 2011

At the Šenčur Primary School, Šenčur, Slovenia, 2011, the young architects have re-designed this boring (and rather depressing) school corridor with a colour scheme (the colours also giving each classroom a unique identity), and fun interactive components for climbing on and sitting in; thus offering the children a variety of play - individual and social experiences.

UNDERGROUND CAVE, Ledina Kindergarten, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2012

From storage space to a magical underground cave, this project works within the existing and rather constrained space using colour, texture, light and a multi-faceted form to create an exciting play landscape for the children attending this kindergarten. The new environment, with it's gloomy shadows, lights, secret corners and steep inclines encourages the children's imagination and tests their physical capabilities.

Hospital art injects a bit of life into sterile hospital spaces

It is great to witness the long overdue recognition of the role that art, design and architecture can play in forming positive spatial experiences in spaces that otherwise can be marked with trauma.

When Great Ormond Hospital in the UK ran a competition asking artists to transform a new hospital wing with an interactive artwork, the winner Jason Bruges Studio responded with the idea for a nature trail - a 50m long artwork displaying animated animals on 70 specially programmed LED panels.

The animal magic comes to life as the patient starts his or her journey to theatre by triggering sensors embedded in the ceiling. All of a sudden frogs, deer, hedgehogs, horses and birds appear on the wallpaper.  

 The result is an installation that captures the imagination, lighting up the faces of the children and improving the otherwise sometimes difficult experience of the hospital treatment.


Bruges was inspired by memories of his own childhood; "The idea came from remembering walks in my childhood...spotting and following things, those stolen glances and glimpses, the excitement of stopping at hides. I was trying to recreate this with the idea of digital lookout points along the corridor."

Via The Guardian.

A wonderful graphic that shows quality EC Education means a brighter future

Preschool Infographic

Via Education News.

Architect David Businelli strives to "pay attention to the visual horizon of the child"

Writing about Studio 16's St Clare's Parish Child Care Center (below), David Businelli of Studio 16 recently got in touch with me.

Remarking on the number of facilities that are supposedly designed for children that in fact aren't, I asked David if he could answer a few questions of what he has learnt from his experiences designing facilities for children.

David responded thoughtfully, particularly emphasizing the importance of the child's perspective of space; to respond to the child's viewpoint - of scale, circulation and comfort. Indeed aspects which I believe have been under-valued and therefore realized in many designed child-care centres.

The visual horizon of the child. Diagram author's own.


site by Ana Degenaar