Ask a child what their favorite subject is at school, and chances are they’ll say recess. It’s the one time during the day when they are almost absolutely free to make decisions for themselves — from who to play with, what to play, and where to play. And as children grow, the social dynamics of who can play where shifts and an age-based pecking order ensues.
The Netherlands-based design team at Carve integrate architectural expression into their playground design thereby generating unique play experiences for children of all ages. Don’t let the kids know, however that the Carve team strives to encourage a cognitive process — even during free time. This new equipment and play structures stimulate decision-making, group and continuous play (use of the same equipment in varying way) encouraging children to climb, hang, swing, skate, slide, run, jump, vault, hide.
One of Crave’s creation in particular, the wall-holla, has received special notoriety as it was nominated for the Dutch Design Awards in 2006. Thirty children at once can climb, crawl, roll and maneuver through the large fence-like structure. Older children are able to scale the climbing wall or just relax and look out over the domain they’ve waited countless years to control. By Andrew J Wiener.
Poetry and storytelling help us understand the world that surrounds us. Visual imagery allows the mind to draw parallels between what we see and how we think. Dutch designer Jurgen Bey has created a classroom that will inspire young minds to think beyond the realm of what is traditionally asked of school children.
The classroom interior project is part of the ROC training school at Apeldoorn in the Netherlands. Practically every surface of the room is covered with images found in books used at the school. Centred around a palate of white and grey, Bey selected graphics then placed them around the space on walls, furniture and even the floor. Moveable screens allow the room to open completely or divide space depending on the activities taking place.
One key feature, the highly wear-resistant flooring system made with Senso Freeze, contains a transparent resin that allowed Bey to embed digital photographs onto the surface. Inspiration and creativity seeps from every surface - it's impossible to imagine what will be generated from the minds as they pass through this space. By Andrew J Wiener
Let's just all rewind the movie of our lives a bit and go back to school. We at Coolhunter are thinking of heading to University of London's Birkbeck College and finding our way to the classes at its Film & Visual Media Research Centre.
You cannot tell from the outside that the odd set of buildings at London's Gordon Square offers anything remarkable at all. The older building does have a pedigree - it is the former home of both Virginia Stephens (later Woolf) and economist John Maynard Keynes. The drab 1970s extension to the building does not even deserve another look. Except inside.
Award-winning London-based Surface Architects won the competition to create within the buildings the permanent home of the Film & Visual Media Research Centre. Surface transformed the basement, ground floor and the extension into a unique state-of-the-art 80-seat cinema auditorium, surrounded by a media study suite, seminar rooms and offices.
Ian Christie, Birkbeck's Professor of Film and Media History, describes the exciting new building “...the new cinema auditorium - already being referred to as 'The Screen on the Square' is as soberly dedicated to ideal screening conditions as the surrounding break-out spaces and stairway are an exuberant display of pure form and colour. In fact, Surface's extraordinary projection of intersecting cones has various filmic associations: the jagged angles recall the Expressionist set design of The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, an influential German film of 1921; and the lurid colours evoke Andy Warhol's silkscreen portraits of film stars.”
Key players at Surface are Richard Scott, who formed it in 1996, and Andy MacFee, who joined Surface in 2001 as director. Both have worked with Will Alsop and other notables. Surface is also one of 47 practices worldwide selected to work on the Athlete's Village for the London 2012 Olympics. By Tuija Seipell
Forget your traditional definition of an amusement park, Wannado City leaves behind the cotton candy, the solicitors of large stuffed animals, the mindless entertainment and trash. Instead the “city”� has redefined child entertainment with aspirational activities, all of which are framed around the question: “What do you wanna do when you grow up?”�
Wannado City was crafted from the vision of Mexican-born Luis Javier Laresgoiti, who had a eureka moment while watching his daughter “play executive” on his business phone. Laresgoiti, with the backing of several major corporations has crafted a dream world where children are encouraged to take on an adult profession and see where it takes them. The park is located in Sawgrass Mills Mall in Southern Florida.
Each venue has its own concentration, such as the Motorola-sponsored M-Lab that focuses on innovation and invention. The M-Lab turns each visitor is given a white lab coat and transformed into an “M-Ventor.”� The children are encouraged to work together on a technology-based game to solve a difficult problem. Once they’ve solved the situation at hand, they’re greeted with a congratulatory “Mission Accomplished”� banner.
M-Lab however, goes far above and beyond the standard protocol for children’s playthings. The space was designed in collaboration with Motorola and Gensler, a self-proclaimed “global design, planning and strategic consulting firm.” The M-Lab lures passer-bys with its façade — clad in stark aluminum and panelite — which contrasts with the surrounding “quaint village” motif. Inside there are seven chambers, each meticulously designed depending on the room’s task at hand. The end result is a realistic series of rooms that embrace each child’s fantasy of becoming the next influential innovator. By L. Harper
We’ve been running into amazing walls recently (not literally, of course, or at least not physically) and this is giving us reassurance that “contractor beige” is not the only wall colour imaginable or acceptable. So, you can imagine the grins on our faces when we discovered E-Glue. The 3 month old French based company started by designers who create super-fun wall adhesives for kids rooms. The creative duo create all the illustrations and hand-make all the products. They ship worldwide but we see no reason to spoil the kids with such extravagance. We are ordering some for the office. By Tuija Seipel
Lets face it. Being a hospitalized kid sucks. Apart from the obvious physical issues, the mental issues such as boredom can keep sick children feeling very low indeed. Design team, Jetske Verdonk, have come up with this simple and fun solution to trailing a drip frame around all day.
The Zieken+Huis is a drip-cum-tricycle which allows the pint-size patient to zip around the ward whilst remaining attached to their vital fluids and intravenous medication. In addition to this three wheeling wonder, the release of a curtain frame which drapes around the patient's bed has also been launched.
The frame allows 'get well' cards to be hung around it, acting as a decoration for the otherwise sterile looking beds. by Bill T
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
It's the ultimate experience for kids, a night in an alternative universe at the Kids Sphere Hotel in Belgium. Known as the Atomium, a replica of an iron molecule with nine aluminum spheres (built for the World Fair of 1958), the complex has been renovated and updated to include overnight accommodation for childrens dubbed the Kid Sphere hotel - set amongst the fascinating sci-fi exhibitions and original spheres. Kids are entertained by a packed calendar of events including films and there's a restaurant at the top of the structure boasting panoramic view of the city of Brussels. by Bill T