Wednesday, 11 December 2013

East Village Childcare Centre

I just got word that the East Village Childcare Centre has had their Developmental application  approved by the City of Sydney. It was a pleasure to work with Wayne Sammut from Ionic Management and Karl May from Turner Studios to create an outdoors playspace, indoors (on the 5th floor actually).  The fantastic architectural visualisation below was created by Sunny Chan of Ivolve Studios.

The playspace is designed to have an open ventilation system, Low-E glazing and a built-in irrigation system so the plants get all they need to keep them growing. 

A large greenwall will help to cool and oxygenate the playspace, and there will be plenty of opportunity to play, play, play with two sandpits, log steppers for seating and climbing, timber balance beams and slides. There are also hidden quiet areas and areas for meditation. 

The raised garden beds will host a number of sensory native trees, shrubs, grasses and climbers and separate raised beds will be used for growing edible herbs and veggies.

With a greater development of Australian inner city areas I have noticed an increased trend to integrate childcare centres, including the playspace, within the new residential/commercial complexes, both usually above ground level. I understand that the creation of indoor playspaces may be paramount in areas of the world that experience extreme temperature variations but this is an emergent and challenging trend in Australian childcare design. Challenging and rewarding in that I have been able to work with developers and architects who are aware of the benefit of natural playspaces and are happy to consider them integral components of any new centres' design.  

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The kids don’t play any more

“Play is a powerful way to impart social skills,” writes Peter Gray, an evolutionary psychologist who believes children’s lives have become ruinously regimented. Play also teaches children how to manage intense negative emotions, such as fear and anger, and to test themselves by taking manageable risks. Unstructured and unsupervised (oh, horrors!) play is crucial for their development.

“In play, children make their own decisions and solve their own problems,” Prof. Gray writes. “In adult-directed settings, children are weak and vulnerable. In play, they are strong and powerful. The play world is the child’s practice world for being an adult.”

Those kids playing shinny until dusk weren’t just wasting time. They were learning life lessons in problem-solving, negotiation and resilience. And they were better off without your help.

In hunter-gatherer societies, children play constantly until late adolescence. But today, as Prof. Whitebread observes, play has been almost squeezed out of their lives by a risk-averse society, by our separation from nature and by our widespread cultural assumption that “earlier is better.”