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Another fantastic new nursery in Japan is the D.S Nusery by Youji no Shiro

A simple material palette and a layout that focuses on a shared kitchen / dining and green outdoor play space makes for an excellent example of what an EC centre should be.

An arched blackboard wall separates the shared or "public" realm and the group or "childcare" space, with cubbies for bags and shoes cleverly delineating a locker / entrance space.

Internally, a simple material palette of white walls, timber floors, structure and joinery with hanging lights makes for a homely environment (that also takes children seriously).

A communal kitchen and indoor & outdoor dining space creates a lively "hub" and occasion around meal times.

Windows are placed at alternating heights inviting childrens' interaction.

The internal exposed beams carry on to the external overhanging eaves. While the "boxy" frames create visual interest to the otherwise "plain" corrugated metal facade.

All of the children's spaces face onto the internal outdoors providing much natural light, ventilation and access to play outdoors.

The shared internal garden play space features predominantly natural elements - trees, plants, an abundance of grass, rocks and tree stumps...

While man-made features include criss-crossing ramps promoting physical play (running, walking, cycling) and picnic benches encourage social interaction.

Deep window sills allow them to be inhabited (sat on, climbed on, jumped off)...

Here you can see the internal layout hierarchy - with children's rooms all facing the outdoors and the large shared playroom and kitchen / dining spaces - creating the sense of community and security.

"A learning landscape" is this concept by NORD for a marine educational centre

It is like a giant early childhood centre.

The idea of rooms being enveloped by an undulating or zig zag roof canopy, letting in or expelling heat/light and air as permitted has been seen in a number of early childhood structures before (like here, here and here).

NORD's adoption of the concept is probably because it is a fitting one for learning, advocating respect for the natural environment.

Says Molander Pedersen (partner at NORD Architects):

"We have developed a learning landscape where education is everywhere. It is in the landscape, in the building and in the transition between nature and culture."

Located in Malmö, Sweden, the new marine centre winning concept comprises of a 700-square-metre visitor centre with a large overhanging roof. The indoor and outdoor spaces are blurred - with activities in and out inviting users (children and adults) to explore the marine and physical environments using their senses.

Inside, further contributing to the learning experience the building's water handling, energy consumption and ventilation functions will be communicated to the building's users.

“With the changing climate, rising oceans and increased severity of cloudbursts, there is a need more than ever to understand the profound influence that marine life and the oceans have on our lives”, says Pedersen.

I look forward to seeing the built product.

Via Dezeen.


Opposite the Turner Contemporary Museum and within a Victorian grotto on Folkestone seafront stands a temporary installation by Dutch artist Krijn de Koning titled Dwelling.

The colourful architectural labyrinth walkway comprises of a series of angled walls punctured with doorways and windows that create a trail for visitors to navigate through, while using the existing surroundings to create a new experience of the space (see more images here).

The installation provides an air of fun and exploration - notions inspired in many early childhood settings to promote self learning through play. And upon further investigation, Krijn has in fact worked with architects Teeuwisse & Willems to create a space for an educational centre in Soest, Germany.

Here, a wall and ceiling structure stretches over the common hall space and on the other side creates two smaller play areas.

Like a creeper, the green form "climbs" across the existing surfaces creating new areas to explore and experience physically.

The installations providing a new lease on what would otherwise be a "boring" or rather standard (walls, ceilings and floors) space.

Via Urbis.

Ormiston Activity Centre - a beacon among the bland

It may not be for early childhood, but due to my frequent musings every time I drive past it I thought I'd share.

In the words of Linda Tyler from Architecture Now, the "technicolour dreamcoated" structure designed by ArchOffice is a "beacon in the wilderness of the 94-hectare Barry Curtis Park"

Termed the Ormiston Activity Centre, the building sits in the new Auckland development site of Flatbush, which is estimated to house 40,000 people by 2020.

Unfortunately, the area is already blighted with rows upon rows of "matchbox houses" like the above.

Hence my astonishment at witnessing the colourful "activity centre" which sticks out like  a sunny sore thumb among the dreary urban monotony.

A stair tower, meeting room for up to 80 persons, toilets and a viewing platform (over the toilet block) like building blocks, make up the elements of the building.

While precast concrete, concrete block and vertical steel flat bars coloured in cyan, magenta, yellow and green (CMYK) clad the exterior and form the balustrade above.

While I am saddened by the site's development so far, this wee youthful structure is a beacon that says there is hope for the area yet.

'Wednesday' by Anne Bertier (and translated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick)

The story below by the french children's story book writer Anne Bertier reminds me of Froebel's abstracted geometries for teaching children the "essence" or basic "building blocks" of the natural world.

It is a story that also speaks to adults - teaching basic fundamentals to perhaps more complex notions.

It is the story of two friends, Little Round and Big Square who get together every Wednesday to play a game.

A game of association and transformation, where "as soon as one of them says a word, they transform themselves into it."

But the fun abates when Little Round begins to feel littler and insufficient, as Big Square begins to parade a repertoire of words beyond Little Round's capabilities.

They form a rift and go to opposite sides of the room.

However, soon they realise that if they work together, they can form an endless array of images....

Not only is the story a simple but poignant portrayal for the way we transform the building blocks of life, but also shows that whether we are big or small (age or otherwise) - each has something to offer. 

Two new fun-filled kids spaces in Israel designed by Sarit Shani Hay

I've shared Sarit's beautifully graphic fun-filled interiors for children before, and now she has done it again with these two new centres in Tel Aviv, Israel.

"Hello First Grade"

The first, "Hello First Grade" is actually an interesting brief, which hopes to soften or ease the transition for children going from early child care to school (the Arts & Science Elementary School).

Thus the environment was designed to be inviting and encourage childrens' eagerness for learning.

Central to the school's design is a large magnetic wall designed as a notebook page connecting rows of wooden pencils in a range of colours to letter, number and geometric magnets. Allowing children to arrange these to will.

Left is the 'music corner' - located within a large wooden drum. Here, children can listen to their chosen music through headphones. Right, is the 'dance corner', which hosts a stage and dance bar for rehearsing and performances.

A 'reading and friendship corner' situated in wooden blocks has cushioned seats, activity tables and library niches - catering for quiet or 'study' activities.

A black and white checker floor promotes physical movement or play, while a large screen embedded in a robot's head offers technological play and learning (through games and films).

The design caters for a range of learning types and stimulation of the senses.

Educational Centre in Kfar Shemaryahu

Sarit's second project is in Kfar Shemaryahu and covers 2,400m² which includes six kindergartens, a common play area and an 'empowerment centre' providing psychological services to the community's children.

The centre's design is inspired by both the city's agricultural past, as well as the "seven species" of the Bible denoting the profusion and fertility of the Land of Israel and its diverse crops.

The distinctive character of each kindergarten was dictated by the species identified with it, which served as a design code and gave rise to its colour scheme and components. Graphic and symbolic motifs meet functional learning motives, as well as serving to inspire the "fun of learning".

The Lobby

The central lobby acts as a axis binding all of the kindergartens together, whilst serving as a play area and passageway to the Empowerment Centre.

The lobby space (above and below) plays a key role in outlining the overall narrative of the centre.

The child arrives and witnesses scenes of a village, such as the large tractor and sculptural islands with raw-birch plywood trees on the floor.

And on the walls, graphics imitating the contours of the landscape: a water tower, a watchtower and various animals all made of woodcuts in Formica on plywood.

The kindergartens

The six kindergartens echo one of the three 'themes' composed by Sarit and are divided either by modular furniture or by airy wooden huts.

The first theme is the 'Tamar (Palm) Kindergarten' - the orange palette echoing the colour of ripe dates. The graphics drawn from palm trees: oasis, camels and huts with maple wooden beams.

The 'Zayit (Olive) and Gefen (Vine) Kindergarten (below) caters to toddlers. Cushioned seats and age-related activities serve the child's physical and learning capacities.

Graphically, a dove bearing an olive branch is imprinted on the cupboard doors. A symbol of peace which alludes to the the underlying 'seven species' concept - teaching tolerance and respect.

The 'Rimon (Pomegranate) Kindergarten' (below) takes it inspiration form the pomegranate tree.

A pomegranate jigsaw puzzle (like) piece is imprinted in the cupboard doors, and the pomegranate fruit is incorporated as a round hiding place and sheltered play area in the cupboard as an upholstered stool.

The Empowerment Centre

The Empowerment Centre serves the community providing special rooms and psychological services.

The waiting area contains an interactive wall combined with various textures, containing a wide range of games such as a clock with hands, a turning bicycle wheel, wooden balls threaded on a ball among more.

The reception desk (above) is made of maple wood with colourful 3D pay blocks incorporated into it, while large sculptural blocks scattered on the floor with numbers and letters help to make the waiting children feel relaxed and be occupied through play.

Both new educational spaces for children successfully celebrate the child's capacity for learning through exploration and play.


site by Ana Degenaar