From working on a few design proposals, I’ve begun to spot core differences in our approach when considering the various audience and users. In the conference rooms, our designers brainstorm with global mindsets and consider factors for the building environment that are very specific to an age group. In particular, designing for the kindergarten audience presents a separate set of challenges. As Kindergarten is such a crucial time period for students to develop cognitive, social, self-help, and literary skills, the criteria of considering the space is a trial in itself. Designers need to fulfill present-day parents’ needs while complying with contemporary architecture trends. In addition to adding value, designers have to also create a healthy environment that promotes diverse activities and establishes a solid foundation for their personal development. Below are the points that were debated most frequently in our firm when designing for Kindergarten spaces:
Addressing and Foreseeing Needs
We respond to local conditions, envisioning how children and teachers will be using the space. When we reach out to the community, we engage in discussions that explore on daily interactions, existing design preferences, desired learning outcomes, and future common goals for the space. With the changing terrain of the academic curriculum, we need to accommodate more diverse activities such as yoga, meditation, and pet care. To instill that amount of flexibility, we came up with a few creative ideas, ranging from tame to wild varieties, and run it by the focus groups, shareholders, and users to understand their level of engagement with the design.
Shape & Orientation
While we take climate, noise, and surrounding views into consideration for the size and orientation of the rooms, there is also the matter of the shape of the building itself and how it is infused with adjacent buildings in the city grid. Optimally speaking, we create measured distances so that the kindergarten isn’t overshadowed by neighboring buildings and try to obtain the largest open playing space for the children, all while abiding by the regulations and standards. This is more difficult in densely populated areas as kindergarten buildings are occupying more vertical landscapes. Aerial and perspective view studies are crucial to determining the orientation of the classrooms, windows, and doors.
Children’s sensory systems are especially sharp and they are very hands-on beings. We are always debating about the textures of the materials. A few of our Lunch & Learns in the past have had an emphasis on having the product representatives bring in large amounts of samples for our team to touch and play. We imagine ourselves surrounded by the material, running our hands through it daily, and seeing what the cleaning process would look like if we drew on it with paint. We like to choose warm, bright, and smooth surfaces. In addition, our designers research the properties of the materials and identify the safest ones for child exposure, with us leaning towards wood-based products.
Here's a design we looked at this week as inspiration:
Ecole Maternelle Pajol
This 1940s building, located on Rue Pajol in Paris’s 18th arrondissement, has been restored and re-imagined to infuse joyful language within its design. The modern vibrancy and timeless nuances create positive spaces for the users while still keeping the rich history intact.