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    Edible Schoolyard NYC's showcase preschool and primary school, P.S. 216 transforms a parking lot into a half-acre organic garden where children are taught how to harvest over 60 types of fruits, grains and vegetables.

    The Edible Schoolyard (ESY) project was started by renowned chef Alice Waters to provide spaces in which children plant, harvest, prepare food and eat together, creating a comprehensive interdisciplinary curriculum that connects food systems to academic subjects such as literacy, science, social studies, math and the arts.

    Terming the project "the delicious revolution", Waters says that "when the hearts and minds of our children are captured by a school lunch curriculum, enriched with experience in the garden, sustainability will become the lens through which they see the world."

    The architectural system is designed to cater for learning and food preparation. Working together as a series of interlinked sustainable systems, these elements produce energy and heat, collect rainwater, process compost and sort waste to create an entirely off-grid structure.

    The building breaks into three parts. The flowers correspond to the office and a generous classroom, lit from above and the side by circular windows. The slant roofed greenhouse is clad in translucent polycarbonate with an alumunium structure. In the back, coated in blue rubber, is the tool shed, a bathroom and cistern. 

    At the heart of the school is the "kitchen classroom", with three learning stations, built-in storage, and small office surrounding three dining tables where up to thirty students can enjoy meals they prepare. The internal joinery colours matching the external shingle, patterned facade.

    The bold patterned facade of pixelated giant red and white blooms stands out from the neighbouring highway, thus acting as a branding and giving the school a unique identity. 

    Since the programme began in 1995, school gardens have popped up all over! Explore the movement's progress on this map. 

    It is a fantastic concept that teaches children not only about healthy and sustainable living, but how to work together and as a community. The architecturally designed NYC P.C. 216 model is perhaps one which can be developed and reiterated across numerous continents and educational situations.

    Thus becoming an integral component of future educational facilities.

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    Fantails Childcare in the new Auckland sub-division of Silverdale does not shy away from the street. Rather it presents a bold "look at me" faceted glass facade, like that of the fantail from which it takes its inspiration.

    Accommodating children aged six months to five years of age, Fantails designed by Collingridge and Smith, architects of the previously blogged and award-winning Te Mirumiru centre in Kawakawa is the third facility of its kind. Four intimate settings cater for 25 children (infants, toddlers, juniors and preschoolers) each.

    Large windows (including clerestory) allow plenty of natural light to penetrate the internal spaces. While glass sliding doors on the northern side open up onto an outdoor landscaped play space, featuring both natural and man-made play elements including a fort and bike track.

    The considered architectural design extends to the interior fit-out. Custom-designed child-scaled furniture and flexible storage modules allows the space to be broken up into a number of functional zones. 

    The splayed triangular plan cleverly negotiates the relatively small site, splitting the space equally into parking, indoor classrooms and services and outdoor play. The centre bravely stands as a welcoming addition to a new Auckland suburb, providing an iconic symbol for the community.

    Via Collingridge and Smith Architects and Local Matters.

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    Baukind was brought to fruition when architect Nathalie Dziobek-Bepler volunteered to help her child's kindergarten find a new premises. This experience coupled with Germany's lack of centres to meet the high demand for childcare led her to establish the multi-discplinary practice, which employs architects and designers. Baukind not only design or "fit-oput" spaces, but provide a service to help find appropriate property and submit funding applications.

    Many early childhood practitioners (parents, businesses, churches) are often overwhelmed with finding and fixing potential spaces for early childcare. With considering issues such as leasing, building application/consents, costing, and the programmatic requirements for the early childhood centre space - services, sanitary requirements, equipment, accessibility etc.

    Baukind's expertise thus alleviates some of this stress, delivering a transformative space for early childhood education and care.

    Kita Hisa
    Kita Hisa is located in a previously used retail space. Baukind have cleverly used a number of tools to differentiate space and create a multitude of spatial experiences. Circular (painted in colours or blackboard, carpeted or mirrored) patterns stretch across the walls, floors and ceiling. Platforms, boxes and storage/furniture modules of differing sizes may be used for functional reasons (for storing toys, plants or sitting on) to purely for play. The integrated and considered design encourages discovery and exploration in the children who attend, as well as offering a distinct place for them to call their own.



    Kita Dragon Cave
    Kindergarten Dragon Cave employs an old salt sauna as it's location. Built for the non-profit company Drachenreiter (Dragon Rider), which builds and runs nurseries and daycares locally. This fit-out features a natural "forest" theme - the floor-to-ceiling wood trunks encouraging the children to climb and exercise. Wooden tunnels serve as benches and platforms - offering storage and play, while the hallway serves also as an instrument, where kids can with a stick lightly rap at the hollow dowels planted against one of its walls. The dialogue between rooms is carried throughout - the walls featuring verdant rolling hills and "stick" coat hangers found from salvaged wood scraps. The distinct visual language, multifuncational features and pared back palette of colour and texture provides a stable yet stimulating environment for these children.



    Kita Loftschloss
    Kindergarten Loftschloss is the first kindergarten in Berlin that is located in a shopping mall. The large 250 square metre space broken into smaller areas with the use of angled walls, which is then further broken down with storage, levels and holes.The colour scheme, furniture and built-in components makes for an integrated scheme, where the kids feel like they are explorers and conquerers of their surroundings. 



    Kita Spree Sprats
    The Kita Spree Sprats was formerly a Shisha Cafe. The entrance/lobby area or "wardrobe" (as the Germans call it) features a boxed seating area with herbs and a collection of boxes for lost property. A blackboard sliding door takes you through to the "group" rooms or "classrooms" featuring organic "grass" mats. Wooden strips in front of the heaters are climbing aids and lined to be a 70 meter long marble run. A sculpted white ceiling and colourful floor painted semi up the walls implies a feeling of a landscape which is waiting to be explored.



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    Ole B Nielsen, founder of Monstrum with Christian Jensen began his monster playground building journey after being given the opportunity to build a playground at his son's kindergarten.  “Designing playgrounds is an unpretentious and fun mix between sculpture, architecture, scenography, craftsmanship and pedagogy,” says Nielsen.

    Going against the standardization seen across the playground industry, Monstrum believes in allowing each location to influence the design and inspire the theme. Whimsical arrangements of distorted buildings, giant monsters and transporation vessels provide a fantastical environment where children can let their imagination go.

    There is no plastic, flashy gadgets or components, rather Monstrum have opted for a more traditional and simple approach of using wood and screws - crafted into a variety of imaginative forms.  

    Says Jensen, “What makes our playgrounds unique is that kids are not able to figure out how to use them just by looking at them. They have to explore it. When they are running or climbing through the playground there is not only one right way. They have to consider a lot of options and paths assessing their motor skills and safety. This creates continuous movement."

    Via Colossal and Dwell.

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  • 03/02/14--21:24: Article 2

    "All sorts" of fun "kid stuff" found from the good ol net that I thought I'd share weekly for your inspiration. See below for stockists...

    1. TEGU: The Pocket Pouch - Prism 6 Piece Set - Tints from CleverBastards.
    2. Plywood Art - Rain Cloud from Collected.
    3. Bunny Night Light from Collected.
    4. Coat Rack City from Clippings.
    5. Star T-shirt from Talc Boutique.
    6. Safari Cookie Cutters from Collected.
    7. Leopard Coat from Coaters.
    8. Bear Hoodie from Talc Boutique.
    9. Confetti Pillowcase from Collected.

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    Turf rooftops, angled sliding walls and roofs doubling as stairs for sitting on (see link for Dezeen article), are all features that architects Dorte Mandrup have employed in their day-care centres that treat the building as a canvas for play.

    Råå Day Care Center

    Råå Day Care in Helsingborg, Sweden is connected to the local old fishing town's school. The architectural form an interpreation of the condensed viallge structure immersed in a dune.

    The angled and undulating roof with skylights interspersed throughout, creates a multitude of spatial experiences for the children - to moving and irregular shaped shadows and light and a space to climb and sit on outside.

    Marthagaarden Day Care Centre
    To be situated in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, the proposed Marthagaarden Day Care Centre is a renovation and extension of two existing villas and a garden, the small-scale masterplan (integrating ladscape design, engineering and architecture) creating a protected environment for children to play. 

    An accessible sunken courtyard, a rooftop playground and surrounding landscaped gardens are placed at different elevations, to create a varied topographical experience for the children users. 

    Children's Culture House Ama'r
    The design of the Children's Culture House Ama'r was conceived with the help of the children, whose fanciful ideas have helped to create a building that children of ages 0-18 years can call their own.

    From Nild Regout, Head of Ama'r Children's Culture House:

    "The Children’s Culture House mediates the varying scales of adjacent buildings through extruding and cutting their forms. The angles of the building are lowered to allow maximum sunlight to reach the neighboring courtyard. The expression of the Children’s Culture House is surprising and imaginative: the roof and facades are treated the same, and the House does not have a “start” and “end” as ordinary houses do."

    The building is organised as a mountain with all insterior spaces being visually connected , bound by dynamic circulation. Flexible spaces and customised furniture enhance the children's creativity and active participation with the spaces.

    Above, a sloped climbing wall leads to a wee "nook", while smooth stone pillows and colourful flying butterflies add to the magical space.

    Day Care Centre Naestvedgade
    This Day Care in Naestvegade, Copnehagen consists of a prism and a frame at the core of it's design. The prism shape used to create minimal shadow on the west-facing outdoor areas of the neighbouring housing estate and maximum outdoor space for play.

    The goal of the design is for the children to appreciate a number of experiences; namely to experience the elements: earth, wind, water and fire, to experience the change of seasons and hours, to experience the surroundings from different positions, up and down, close and from far away; and to be able to expose one self or hide , to be alone or together, to be quiet or noisy and wild.

    Day Care Centre Skanderborggade
    The Day Care Centre in Skanderborggade, Copenhagen sits amongst a mix of desnse buildings from the turn of the 19th century. Due to this, the site for the day care gets very little sun. Furthermore, regulations allowed for the building to go no higher than one-storey. This called for a design with an inner courtyard to retrieve the sun and for the play areas to extend to the roof, thus maximising the space to obtain an indoor-outdoor connection.

    Features of the Day Care include a swing forest in the area underneath the slope from the rooftop to the classrooms, a circular turfed courtyard and slope with sticky plastic bean bags, and a colouful and spotty roof garden featuring mounds, sand boxes, a water zone and swings.

    It is a design that shows tight restrictions may result in imaginative solutions.

    Via Dorte Mandrup and Architecture News Plus.

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    The re-interpretation of these iconic artists (see Mondrian below) remind me of Brosterman's comparison to modernist art and the Froebel "gifts"(see previous post).

    Italian artist and architect Federico Babina explores the symbiotic relationship between architecture and art, and how they would interact with each other. 


    Says Bambina: "I like finding the hidden architecture in parallel universes, in this sense, the illustration helps me to explore alternative languages".

    It is a methodology that might be well received in designing for children - what does a child's art tell us about how their architectural environments should or could be designed?

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    Showcased as part of the 'Garden for Children' exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in July 2010 is the 'Cheering Mountain' - a playspace with a gigantic blackboard.

    Designed by Mikido Endo (of Office Mikido), the architect wanted to present art not as something to think about but instead as something participants would feel through their bodies.

    The unusual scale and mountain-like shape of the blackboards; the cushions at the base; the peek-a-boo holes and strange arms - encourage children to climb, jump, and spread their creative energy into every corner.

    After the two-month exhibition period, the gigantic mountain was no longer a blackboard but a funny creature with white hair. Anyone entering the space was immediately greeted by the amazing creativity of the the former visitors.

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    Previously blogged Te Mirumiru in Kawakawa, Northland has been deservedly awarded a 6-star Green Rating by The New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) - the first educational building to receive the award, representing world leadership in sustainable construction.

    With a gently curved concrete structure, the building is covered by earth and grass on its roof and unglazed sides, integrating it with the landscape and paying homage to the tribe’s customs and history (‘Ngati Hine of a hundred hills’).

    Well done to Phil Smith and let us hope that more inspiring and "green" sustainable educational buildings follow in it's stead.

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    Rowena Martinich interrupts "dead" or "seen but never noticed" spaces with her vibrant brush strokes - giving to the passer-by an experience that makes one stop, contemplate and be inspired.

    From Claire Anna Watson:"Today, the role of the public artist is to inject our cities, our urban and public spaces, with imaginative and creative possibilities. Public authorities realise that creativity has its place in enlivening spaces and encouraging community members to imagine – to be inspired, to feel reawakened."

    It is a concept that reminds me of the Reggio preschools in Italy, whose first Diana Preschool featured large grid-like floor to ceiling windows - where children's semi-transparent or cut-out artworks were proudly displayed (see bottom-right).

    It makes me wonder if children's creative capacities are in fact being utilised in the public realm, and the possibility for children to collaborate with artists in creating transient, "pop-up" artisitic installations. What a fantastic project not only for children, but for the wider public!

    See below for a selection of Rowena's works in Melbourne...
    1. Chromacut - collaborative between Rachel O'Connor and Rowena Martinich nad young artists with artwork displayed on the glass facade of the SIGNAL youth arts space in Northbank, Melbourne. Artists have used luminous paints and vinyl cut outs to create a giant sticker installation in conjunction with night-time projection.
    2. Chromaphos at Euroluce - Shattered forms and luminous brushtrokes splay across the façade of Euroluce’s Melbourne showroom.
    3. Dagmar Rousset - Colourful knitwear storefront.
    4. Common Gesture - a 136 square metre painting installation adorned the facade of Building 15 at RMIT University - one of Melbourne's largest ever public paintings.
    5. Chromaphos at Euroluce - Shattered forms and luminous brushtrokes splay across the façade of Euroluce’s Melbourne showroom.
    6. Viachroma - Dandenong Station - a 17m long, double sided painting installation on the pedestrian overpass of Dandenong Station where more that 8,000 commuters passing through every day.
    Love the way the colourful painted cut-outs upon the glass create moving and vibrant shadows implying a sense of play...

    Via The Design Files.

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    Pathways ECI (Early Childhood Intervention), a not-for-profit centre in Marickville, Sydney serving disabled children (either with mental disabilities and/or social disadvantages) has been given an exciting upgrade.

    RAW Architects kindly offered their services in doing some of the work pro bono to assist the centre in establishing a path to funding; where the centre following receiving Development Application (DA) approval in June 2012, received a 1.5m grant from Government and corporate funding. A deserved feat for the growing cause (and the hardworking and generous volunteers).

    The entry is characterised by a house "cut-out" or profile that cuts into the building's outer skin. Marking for the child a strong arrival moment or transition from the outside to now being within the safe confines of the centre. As seen left, the jagged cut into the buildings grey profiled steel metal cladding reveals a striped colourful strip, thus breaking down the scale of the building, whilst giving a sense of drama and play. Also seen left, is an undercroft (transitory zone) that connects the play areas to the rear of the centre. Right is the entry reception and waiting area for parents.

    Much of the original structure was retained and adapted, including two playrooms (as seen left) and associated service spaces. While new joinery and floor finishes integrate the existing spaces with the new. Shown right is the new sensory room, which breaks out onto Jarvie Park. The flexible room provides space for various "play" activities. The indoor space providing soft modular mats, cushions and canopies; the outside a blue turf, green mounds and gardens.

    Colour is carefully selected - used for transition space (the vertically clad soffits in an array of oranges, yellows and red) marking the event from passing from one space to another; and red doors signalling play rooms, while yellow doors signal a bathroom. Inside colour is neutral as to not detract from the hustle of activity occurring within.

    The site's many outdoor landscaped spaces establishes a direct interface with the building - providing the building's inhabitants with "niches" for relaxing, socialising and enjoying the fresh air.

    Clerestory windows draw in morning light and the LED stip lighting and warm materials provide a sense of homeliness to the spaces. Integrated joinery (like the cubbies and cupboards seen above) shows the architect's consideration to detail. The handles - one big and one small, representing the relationship between carer and child.

    Pathways offers a combination of day services that are located at the centre and home visit services that cover over 20 surrounding suburbs. The planning layout of the centre provides hot-desking space for staff who spend a lot of time on the road. Through the use of screens and intermediate break-out spaces a balance has been struck between the collective culture of the centre and the need for separation of individual staff. 

    The project is one that considers the views of the child and the wider community - staff, parents and caregivers. A robust, friendly and manageable facility - the design also through it's use of colour, texture and detailing appeals to the child's inquisitiveness and sensory experiences.

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    Prisma, designed by Alexander Lotersztain for Derlot in Australia is a collection of angular lounges and ottomans that can be configured together in an endless array of configurations.

    A concept which could be applied to an early childhood setting in configuring flexible spaces for the centre's diverse pedagogical needs.

    A triangular wooden side table, a colourful rhomboid ottoman and couch create interesting geometric object arrangements while dividing space.

    Love it.

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    Leading Australian architects and builders are again tackling the Under Cover Cubby House Challenge, an annual competition demonstrating sustainable building design to create fun and unique play "cubbies", while raising money for Kids Under Cover who support homeless and at-risk children.

    2011 Entry - 'The Milk Bar' by Good Constructions& Atkinson Pontifex, with Maddison Architects uses funky colourful recycled milk crates.

    This year's event, including an auction and raffle is held at the Cubby House Village at the Melbourne International Flower Show from Wednesday 26 March to Sunday 30 March 2014 in Australia.

    2014 Concept Entries

    'King of the Castle' (left) by Carr Architecture& De Carolis is a reference to the dreams of young kids to be King's of their own castle on the playground! Featuring a fireman's pole and porthole windows, the form with its fluted top reflects the castle's tower embattlements.

    Right, 'Cloud Climb' by Studio You Me & Tandem with Fridcorp& Luxe Property is a slick and 'modern' miniature home featuring a kitchen with island bench, blackboard walls, internal stair case to the first floor loft, operable roof and a suspended hammock floor.

    'Caravan Me Happy' by Little Green Room is inspired by childhood summer holidays. Using only sustainable products the curving caravan form appeals to the 'inner child' of all ages. 'The Hatch'(right) by Porter Davis Homes resembles a forest hut. Externally, angled walls, weathertex cladding, plywood and a rust-iron finish to the entrance is combined with a play bench, comfy corner seating and a colourful ball pit internally make for a snuggly hideaway.

    Left is 'The Grubby' by Cedar Woods Properties and dKO Architecture with Madison Projects, which is based on children's building blocks. The design encourages children to immerse themselves in a world that they will build themselves; with an assortment of features including an interactive pegboard wall, climbing net, dress-ups and chalkboards.

    'Switch' by Sabi Designs with Harris HMC (right) is designed to allow children to "switch on" their imaginations. The cubbie's 'tools' to accommodate this include a garden, wall art and LEGO. The construction utilises sustainable materials and techniques, solar energy and pump based rainwater.

    Previous Years Entries

    The 2011 winner designed by Nixon Tulloch Fortey Architecture with builder BD Projects is the 'Open House'....(via)

    "We saw the cubby a little like an empty cardboard box that can be turned into anything," says architect Brett Nixon. "Children have unclouded imaginations that create play and scenarios out of the most simple things." 

    The house opens towards the ground and sky, and then closes up into a single form - a recognizable, ordinary form 'the crayon house you sketched on paper that once seemed so very big.'

    From the 212 challenge, 'Cubby Life' designed by Six Degrees Architects and built by Ducon "is a sanctuary that kids can retreat to a place of their own, where the screen-mediated world is unplugged and where they can embrace their dreams and their friendships. Its innovative, sustainable design encourages kids to commune with nature, to interact with the space and to let their imaginations run free” says the team. The design featuring botanical walls, a planter fed by rainwater run-off, recycled timbers, plywood, pigeon holes and under-seat storage and a day-bed offering a soft surface on which to play, converse or nap.

    Also from 2012 is'The Bird's Nest', designed by Australian politician Ted Baillieu (previously an architect) and Australand. A cosy wee hideaway for "nesting" in.

    Above are a selection of the 2013 entries - including ‘Mini Giant’ by Maddison Architects with Stonehaven Homes; ‘Your Name Here’ by Gunn Dyring Architects with David McDonald Builders; ‘The Zimmer’ by Porter Davis; and ‘Enchanted Cubby House’ by Positive Footprints.

    It is great to see architects and builders getting together to create fun and playful spaces not only for the children but for the "inner child" in all. Not only is it a great cause, but advocates a way of designing for children that inspires the imagination.

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    Playscapes have posted these "sensation paths" or "barefoot parks" that are coming out of Europe, where one's "unshod foot" may experience a variety of elements and textures.

    A fantastic idea which may be applied to early childhood environments.

    Below from Barfuss Park are a number of ideas for building your own sensation path, including balancing beams, stone plates, knotted ropes hung from trees, mulch/bark, tree stumps, board walks, loose materials (like stones or sand), wading through water, scented gardens, mud pools and spaces for reflection or rest (e.g. a hammock or bench seat).

    Literally, these can be incorporated into the early childhood setting.

    Less literally, the notion of designing for the senses is not a new idea. Margaret McMillan heralded fresh air, sunlight and scented gardens to improve the health of the child. Maria Montessori and John Dewey advocated the "do it yourself" attitude with tasks and activities for the child's learning. Whereas Rudolf Steiner used architectural form, textures, shadow and light to create space that inspired the child's imagination.

    It is prudent however to remember and reflect on how architecture responds to the child's many and varied senses.

    Boardwalks (Movement/Motor)

    From left: The Flying Carpet project by Area Architecture, Black Locust Wooden bench in Canal Park, Washington, and Kindergarten Guntramsdorf, by GOYA.

    Balance, acceleration and kinesthetic (awareness and perception of one's body) sense is important for a child's development. Thus architecture must allow children to "test" their physical capabilities and motor movements (run, skip, jump, slide etc) so that they may become confident individuals.

    Floor to Wall Textures (Touch)

    From left: Casal de la Joventut de Novelda by Crystalzoo, Nursery School by Rocamora Arquitectura and Sant Martí Primary and Infant School by SUMO Arquitectes + Yolanda Olmo.

    Playful, textured and varied surfaces - inviting one to 'touch' may stretch across the floors and walls. Thus blurring the boundaries and infusing a sense of wonder or excitement into the architecture.

    Natural Materials (Nature Experience)

    From left: New Shoots Children's Centre by Collingridge and SmithHeidelberg kindergarten by Behnisch Architekten and The Children’s School by Maryanne Thompson Architects. 

    Wood, grass, stones, rocks, sand, shrubs, water - all are natural elements offering a variety of sensorial experiences. From moving, rearranging, collecting and being able to feel texture and a sense of warmth or coldness.

    Visual (Colour and Reflection)

    From left: Mirror House by MLRP and Nursery School in Berriozar by Javier Larraz + Iñigo Beguiristain + Iñaki Bergera.

    Reflective or colourfully painted features add to the child's visual experience, arousing movement and giving space a unique identity.

    Activities (Co-ordination and Creativity)

    From left: Kidtopia in Amsterdam by DUS ArchitectsWinnetka Public School Nursery by ArchitectureIsFun and Kita Dragon by Baukind.

    Steps, slides, climbing elements and space for creative expression continues the kinesthetic sense of hand-eye co-ordination and sense of self awareness.

    Rest (Peace and Quiet)

    From left: Ying Yang Public Library by Evgeny Markachev + Julia KozlovaMelbourne Central Retreat by Clare Cousins Architecture, Architects School in Ljubljana by Svet Vmes and Skanderborggade Day Care Centre by Dorte Mandrup.

    Important also to play, is to design for down-time - rest and contemplation. This can be through the use of seating, creating niches or "hidey-holes", through using calm colours and soft warm textures.

    Via Playscapes.

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  • 03/24/14--15:53: Make it Modular!

  • Continuing the theme of modular furniture (see Prisma post here), designers are continuing to use the idea of  "employing or involving a module or modules as the basis of design or construction"(Google definition).

    MAXintheBOX modular table-chair combination by Perludi. Able to be used as a classic table-chair combination, as stools for adults, as a grocery store or a shelf for books.

    These designers are working on the premise for designing for many possible applications or configurations - which are as endless as children's imaginations.

    Froebel's 'Gifts'

    Friedrich Froebel the pioneer of Kindergarten saw the opportunity apparent in modular objects which would reflect his belief in the relationship between physical activity and learning in young children.

    Left are Froebel's 'third, fourth, fifth and sixth gifts' assembled into forms of each of the three realms. Right is Froebel's 'seventh gift' consisting of triangular and quadrangular tablets of coloured paper.

    A system of play objects called the 'gifts and occupations', such as balls, blocks, sticks, paper and clay were introduced to the children by Froebel in a sequence of creative exercises intended to inspire learning and to instill in children an understanding of the "sacred language of geometry" which he believed as the basis for life.

    The blocks:

    Image author's own.

    Coloured paper patterns:

    Images author's own.

    These abstract-design activities were intended to cultivate in children the ability to observe, reason, express and create.

    Below are a number of current furniture and products that today are using the modular methodology - allowing flexibility, for one to arrange as desired and inviting the user to interact in it's arrangement and/or construction.


    The Citybook Storage System (above) designed by Mr Less and Mrs More is a modular shelving shelving system comprised of a 'house-like' angled module, lending itself to distinctly different compositional possibilities - different to your usual shelving unit.

    Fabricated in sheet iron, they're joined by magnets, making them easy to assemble and disassemble.


    Storage need not be purely functional, but may be fun, sculptural and decorative - brightening up a space and bringing a sense of play.

    Giant LEGO Bricks (shown left) may be stacked (like the originals) AND as storage for children to stash their goods in. Likewise with these stacked Pantone Storage Boxes, which are designed by Selab for Seletti.

    Chair or Table = Pew

    Side table, bedside table, stool or desk, the YooBoo PEW designed by Native Creative may be easily slotted together and comes in a variety of colours and patterns.

    Folding table

    While not strictly speaking "modular", this folding table may be altered (or folded) into a number of configurations to suit the user's mood. The Unfold Table designed by Morgan and Marley breaks the standard notion of a table - and shows that it can be so much more - and inspire fun!


    Carrying on from Froebel's blocks, a number of new beutifully crafted wooden blocks are again emerging for children's play. Like shown here (Tegu - Endeavour set) these toys are simple and will last for generations - thus a worthy investment.

    Wall Decals

    Wall stickers offer the advantage of livening up a space, while unlike a new paint job may be easily removed. These'Geometric' Stickers from Love Mae also offer another advantage in that they may be arranged in endless ways....


    Made from 100% natural wool, these ZIP rugs designed by Alberto Sánchez are made of interlocking pieces that create amusing coloured hexagons, superimposed with triangular mathematical shapes - allowing maximum amounts of customisation.


    These colourful Puzzle Cushions (or poufs) from Buzzi are flexible, versatile and fun-ky.

    Whether for children or adults, these modular examples show how any product may be designed to not only be functional, but inspire the imagination and inject a bit of fun (and learning) into our spaces.

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    A few years back I attended a lecture given by Shigeru Ban who spoke about a few of his projects at Victoria University in Wellington. I was surprised at his humility and his light-hearted sense of humour. To say the least it was a memorable, inspirational and enjoyable lecture.

    Ban's work is sincere and simply beautiful, and serves a varied clientele.  As Ban responds in an interview with Metropolis, he was "tired of working for [privileged people with money and power]" and believes "architects can use [their] experience and knowledge more for society". 

    This belief is reflected in Ban's comprehensive disaster-relief work for affected countries all over the world. Below is a selection of his projects, which show his (famous) use of a paper structure:

    1 - Christchurch Cardboard Transitional Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand following the 2011 earthquake. Ban designed this pro bono (for free), the design of which features 86 cardboard tubes and a polycarbon roof supported by eight shipping containers. 2 - Hannover Expo Japan Pavilion, a grid shell structure, whose recycled paper tubes could be dismantled and again recycled. 3 - Paper Emergency Shelter for UNHCR during the humanitarian crisis of war-torn Rwanda in 1994. Before Ban designed his paper solution, refugees were provided with aluminium poles. Bus as aluminium fetched good prices on local markets they preferred to sell them. 4 - Paper Temporary Studio on top of the Pompidou. After winning the competition to design the Pompidou Metz, Ban set up office (with a paper structure - of course) on top of the Pompidou do that he could oversee every detail relating to his design. As Ban jokes in his Ted Talk: "Free rent for six years!" 5 - Privacy Screens for large open-spaced public facilities following the Japan earthquake. 6-9 A Paper Tube School for China's Sichuan province following the quake in May 2009.

    It is a well-deserved win for Ban - as the Pritzker Jury (2014) says:

    “Shigeru Ban is a tireless architect whose work exudes optimism. Where others may see insurmountable challenges, Ban sees a call to action. Where others might take a tested path, he sees the opportunity to innovate. He is a committed teacher who is not only a role model for younger generation, but also an inspiration.”

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  • 03/27/14--14:11: Kids Room Décor
    I was scanning through the boo and the boy and thought I'd share with you a few of my favourite pics showing ideas for kids rooms (one day I might actually undertake such a project!)

    I love the understated tones, the picture books on the wall, the built-in bunk-beds and the swing...

    Via the boo and the boy.

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  • 04/02/14--17:13: How many eggs can you find?
    I used to love creating treasure (and Easter egg!) hunts for my sister and friends with treats bought from the dairy when I was young - ranging from the adventure challenge type (like hopping on one leg 10 times) to solving riddles from clues.

    Therefore I love this idea from chocolate company Whittaker's who have created a Big Egg Hunt this Easter, where you and your family can join the challenge in finding the 100 eggs decorated by NZ artists and designers hidden around Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

    And it's all for a good cause - the event hoping to raise funds for the Starship (Children's Hospital) Foundation.

    See the Auckland "egg" map below (and here);

    You can even have the chance to purchase your very own egg - with Starship auctioning off all 100 after the event.

    Good on Whittaker's for creating a fun and creative-inspiring event this Easter.

    Via CleverBastards.

    Update - there's a New York one too!

    Jewellery store Fabergé have organised this big egg hunt for the people of New York City - who with the help of a designed app have the chance to locate 250 "designer" eggs located throughout the city.

    Above is Benjamin Shine's ‘all-ways new york’ egg pays homage to the unique streets and locations that underpin the diversity of the city.

    From left is Terry Richardson's egg (#188), the Ralph Lauren egg (#203) and Jan Huling's (egg#165).

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    It is true what Ashley Le Quere says of why she likes 'surface design': "surface design for me is something that has no limits - it can be anything from print design for textiles, to laminate flooring to skate boards. It is forever growing and expanding."

    Surface Design may include wallpaper (as shown above and which can be coloured in here), stickers (previously blogged here), magnets (like Kindergarten Ajda) and textiles (including, rugs, throws, cushions).

    I love Ashley's varied and fun style - ranging from the graphic, painted and illustrated - which can be applied to a variety of applications.

    A great way to brighten up any space and make it more light and playful.

    Via The Design Files.

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  • 04/09/14--21:42: Roof = Slide
    John Lin and Olivier Ottevaere have designed a "2 in 1" community library AND playground, the roof doubling as a slide.

    The Pinch, Library and Community Centre was built as part of a government reconstruction following the 2012 Yunnan earthquakes.

    Situated in the mountain village of Shuanghe in south-west China, the library and surrounding plaza offers a meeting place for local residents, as well as a space where children can play and read.

    "Villages in China often prioritise building houses over community spaces and community programs, even though it is an important aspect of village life," Lin told Dezeen. The new structure providing a positive and central hub for ALL the community's residents.

    Simple school benches offer flexible seating, while polycarbonate plastic doors and windows front the building; the trusses extending downward to support a floating bookshelf.

    It is nice to see the focus on creating meaningful community spaces for all ages that invite interaction and play being used as a catalyst for a city's difficult reconstruction process (a similar concept to Van Eyck's post-war Dutch playgrounds).

    Via Domus and Dezeen.

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