Cool designs does not have to be limited to spaces used by adults as we see with these unique areas designed to enhance places of learning.
Forget the "concrete jungle" archetypal school, complete with bars on windows. This school's hallways (pictured above) have been inspired by the imaginary landscape of the Silver Dragon. This environment is created to read like a story book; the further you progress through the hallways, the higher your senses are delighted. With shimmering walls, glowing ceilings and a fantasy feel resonating throughout the architecture, the children engage on a higher social level within the school environment.
Traditionally, libraries also suffer from an image problem. Hordes of books coupled with the 'sshhhh' factor doesn't make for a very cool environment. By installing colorful interiors such as oversized book sleeves, a learning space such as the library is transformed into an area which kids see as cool, and therefore are inspired to read and learn.
A tree-inspired day care center is a far cry from fake grass enhanced playgrounds. The tree trunk is the very foundation of the center, and as such creates the security blanket for the entire structure. This center evokes a warmth which the youngsters respond to. Dream Blossoms grow out of the trunk and create sleeping areas for the habitants to snuggle and nap in. Above the blossoms sprawls the canopy of the
In Lego-bright contrast to the gloomy fate H.C. Andersen prescribed to his original Little Mermaid (that would be death, no less), today's blond little school-going Danes are encouraged to do the sort of things for which some of us got spanked.
Visual artists have created a school with fascinating interiors that feature high window seating for watching the world outside; green platforms with round, red holes where discussions can buzz and bubble, and large upholstered tubes where kids can hide with a good book or spend some time alone. You can do that at school? Unfortunately, only in Denmark.
Children's bookstores, on the other hand, have not suffered by the traditional libraries image problem. Generally, these stores are designed and merchandised to inspire children to enter and purchase.
The Kids Republic bookstore in Beijing (pic below) has taken that concept and run with it. Incorporating the core design elements of a kid's playground, these slipperyslide-inspired-shelves house books in an incredibly fun way. Breaking from the traditional table and chair reading areas, padded L shaped reading stools are used and enjoyed by tiny readers. Dull lighting is replaced by snakelike fittings that radiate a variety of colors whilst providing adequate light to read with.
The choices for kid friendly restaurants, where both parents and kids can enjoy a meal and an environment which caters to both are rare finds. McDonalds have probably lost count of how many times they have dialed 911 to have a parent rescued from inside a playground slippery tube where they have been stuck whilst attempting to get their child to come home.
In a beautiful Dutch village, 10 minutes out from Amsterdam's centre, a parents dream like, kid friendly restaurant exists.
Praq is a restaurant where parents, outerwear and even business people can enjoy a meal and co exist without complaint. Children feel the sense of independence by being seated in a kids area within moms view. There, they can play with giant puzzles, draw, and order from their very own menu whilst seated at their specially designed kids table. The secret to the restaurants success is the use of space.
Praq has been careful in separating these eating spaces whilst still allowing a parent to keep an eye on their child. The light spacious room creates the impression of separation, whilst keeping safety in mind. The children's food is so good, they don't need to promote it by adding in a free toy.
Traditional cooking schools have always looked like a giant classrooms full of mini kitchens. A kids cooking school in Japan has broken that mould by having design guru Moureaux create a studio space and new corporate identity for them.
The cooking school, which is set in the heart of a shopping area in the city of Kyoto, has created a space which eliminates the intimidation factor which students encounter when entering cooking schools. By seating the class amongst brightly colored decor and sleek table and chairs, the environment feels less like a class room. Here the kids can not only cook in the casual teaching environment, they can socialize and eat their homework too.
With U.K parents said to be lashing out a cool GBP 1 billion a year on kids birthday parties, its easy to see that the kids party industry is a gold mine. As children's taste develop, so too does their demand for the latest and greatest (think Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka). For some parents, the age old sleep over is being replaced by a girls night out at Alton Towers Hotel in th U.K.
The hotel has it's own children's Sleep over Suite, a theme room which caters for up to six sleeping princesses who can indulge in the ultimate girls slumber party. The sound proof room is perfect for 3am giggling fits and Justin Timberlake blearing throughout the night.
The suite is divided into two areas. The party area features an over the top entertainment system, karaoke machine ('I will Survive' - Chipmunk version) mini dance floor and a pink fridge filled with ice cream. The sleeping area boasts chill out beds which connect into one big bed for six occupants, a wall to wall mirrored bathroom which is flowing with pampering products from U.K's leading top brand superdrug (limitless branding opportunities here).
At £300 pounds per night (US $560), mom and dad have outsourced the kids birthday party and only have to worry about the drop off and pick up.
Offering a kid a lollypop to welcome them into hospital is so 1950's. Today, that sort of a deal just doesn't cut it.
Instead of bribery through confectionary, this children's hospital in London has reinvented the concept of infirmary and transformed it into inFUNery. Adorned with cheerful, gently winding hospital corridors which lead to wards which look more like kids bedrooms, the hospital has mapped out themes for each of the wards. From the Seashell Ward located on Beach level one, through to the Sky level, each kids ward uses decor and medical equipment that is colorful, creative looking and non threatening.
With a glass atrium dividing the hospital, patients from either side of the wards can look across to see an inviting garden filled with plants, trees and yes, Juggling clowns.
From cool schools to hip learning environments, kids design is forging ahead, meaning the next generation of adults will have been exposed to the elements of cool since childhood, creating adults with a hightened sense of good design. If you know of other interesting kids spaces, let us know. by Bill T