Architecture in support of creativity and play – now that’s something I can fully support! These spaces make me so happy. Here, kids can explore a wandering rainbow walkway, settle in an ergonomic hole in the wall with a good book, or climb a knitted forest. Kids learn by playing, so shouldn’t architecture for children match their playful nature? I think so! In fact, these designs make me wish I were still a child!
Educational Center in Kfar Shmaryahu, Israel
Who says learning can’t be fun? If this space doesn’t excite children, I don’t know what will. In addition to great design, included in this whimsical center are six kindergartens, a common play area, tutoring, social services, and a wellness center. Designed by Sarit Shani Hay and Shoshani Architects, the center is a reflection of the local agricultural history. The compounds title “The Seven Species” was the main influence for the design. The lobby area, or “The Village,” draws its design inspiration from the farming village that the city grew from. Connecting children to these rustic farming roots, this space features natural materials in the form of raw wood climbing trees and an oversized toy tractor. [from Sarit Shani Hay]
Each classroom is named after a local crop. Below, the room design, color scheme, and motifs are inspired by wheat. Look at those mini Eames-style chairs! This place is infinitely more fashionable than my grade school was!
Mini wooden houses define separate play areas.
This play wall is fun and educational — it would be a great idea for a kids room.
Kid’s Republic in Bejing, China
This bookstore and children’s event site designed by Sako Architects is truly magical. The ribbon walkways lead throughout the entire two-story space, allowing children to discover books and break to read along the way. The first floor, pictured below, is a popular activity site. Storytellers engage children and animations are previewed in the public space. On the floor is a delineated stage, and carpet squares are laid out for children to comfortably sit or lie down. [from Sako Architects]
If a child finds a good book, he or she is welcome to stop and read in one of the wall nooks along the rainbow path.
This colorful walk-though along the journey is certainly an experiential space. Notice the lights on the ceiling to get a sense of scale.
Hakone Forest Net in Hakone, Japan
No playground will ever be the same after seeing this amazing children’s space! Designed by textile artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam and her husband Charles MacAdam, these handmade playgrounds are being displayed in museums and public parks alike. This one is located in the sculpture park at Hakone Open Air Museum in Japan. Tezuka Architects designed the structure, and the playground itself was done by the MacAdams. Children are invited to climb, swing, and play on the rainbow playscape. [from Net Play Works]
In the making, the pair works with structural designers and architects to develop the right “house” for the piece and the material appropriate for extended wear and play.
The flexible structure morphs to the playing children inside.
For a child, these spaces must be like a dream come true. Spaces are not often designed with just children in mind, but when they are, they are impressive to both children and adults. The off-the-charts creativity in these designs match the imagination of a child. Today, it seems, whatever you can dream up is possible. If you have children, think of how you can incorporate creativity into your space for a fun learning environment.
What do you think of these playful designs? Have you and your child been to any of these amazing places?