Stories in Design by Yellowtrace: Architecture for Children

 

Call me a tragic mama (this bit is slightly true), and this post self-indulgent in nature (this bit absolutely ain’t true – promise), you can’t deny the fact that as adults, and especially as architects and designers – whether we are parents or not – we have a collective responsibility to teach our Young Jedis about the importance and the value of good design. They say it’s best to start them young, and what’s a more appropriate place to start than spaces children visit and occupy during their development and growth? Education is a serious business (especially in our greedy capitalist society, which is really f*cking shitty, but that’s not the topic of our discussion), so it goes without saying that this post showcases a whole bunch of amazing schools and other educational spaces such as kindergartens and after-school centres. This bit is a no-brainer.

Having said that, I thought it was also incredibly important to survey other types of spaces that children might occupy – from playgrounds, art installations, homes, cabins and shops. Hence, today’s Story on Design is all about delving into the depths of excellent, imaginative, stimulating and out-of-the-box kid-friendly spaces that encourage exploration, support the learning, and illicit that certain sense of precious child-like wonder. Equally, as is the case with all our stories, I make it my mission to bring you kick-ass examples of Architecture for Children that don’t necessarily look as the name suggests. You know what I mean by that, don’t you? These spaces go easy on the plastic-fantastic vomit-inducing materials and colours (gross!), and embrace the principles of good design and sophisticated materiality, the same way we approach Architecture for Grown-Ups. In these spaces and buildings, scale, proportion, repetition, form and (sophisticated) colour palettes play an important part in creating cohesive environments that encourage awareness of design excellence from a very early age. Hear, hear!

 

See More ‘Stories on Design’ Curated by Yellowtrace.

 

ABC Art Basics for Children by HUB | Yellowtrace

ABC Art Basics for Children by HUB | Yellowtrace
Photography © Ilse Liekens.

 

Art Basics for Children (ABC) in Belgium by HUB // ABC is an organisation that aims to convey the principles of architecture to young children. After working for several years with mobile studios in schools and cultural institutions, the need arose for a permanent base to house the increasing public activities. This base was found in an old industrial laundry, located along the tunneled Zenne river, on the border of Schaerbeek, Belgium.


 

Beiersdorf Childrens Day Care Centre by Kadawittfeldarchitektur | Yellowtrace
Photo © Werner Huthmacher.

 

Beiersdorf Childrens Day Care Centre by Kadawittfeldarchitektur // Kadawittfeldarchitektur have designed this children’s day care centre on the property of the Beiersdorf AG offices in Hamburg, Germany. Inspiration by the history of the Beiersdorf AG, the kindergarten resembles an abstract version of an apothecary cabinet. Featuring a shelf-like structure, the facade caters for a variety of functions and requirements and, at the same time, creates a light and transparent atmosphere indoors. The large window formats provide perfect conditions for play and educational work.


 

DS Nursery by HIBINOSEKKEI & Youji no Shiro | Yellowtrace

DS Nursery by HIBINOSEKKEI & Youji no Shiro | Yellowtrace
Photography © Studio Bauhaus.

 

DS Nursery by HIBINOSEKKEI & Youji no Shiro // Surrounded by rice fields, Japanese architects HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro have developed a nursery school based around the concept of wind power. Organised around a central courtyard, each of the scheme’s volumes are interpreted as blades of a windmill. The one storey timber structure is surrounded with low canopies, enclosing a semi-outdoor space that serves as an area of sheltered communal recreation.


 

D1 Kindergarten & Nursery by HIBINOSEKKEI & Youji no Shiro | Yellowtrace
Photo © Studio Bauhaus, Ryuji Inoue.

 

D1 Kindergarten and Nursery by HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro // At ‘D1 kindergarten and nursery’ in Kumamoto, Japan, no partitions are present in classrooms aside from furnishings. At the time of admission, each student is required to buy all needed elements – chair, cubby, desk, etc. and after graduation they take their items home, bringing about an annual update of the school’s equipment at no additional cost to the institution.

The entire interior is a transparent, semi-outdoor space. The structure is surrounded with an external covered pathway that blocks strong sunlight and rain. During warm days, classrooms can be opened fully and ventilated with natural, breezy air. In the centre, a massive atrium delineates a courtyard. Aside from functioning as an impromptu lunch room, the courtyard becomes a water-filled play area after the rain. In winter, snow and water freezes, providing a skating rink.


 

Dongcheon Dong j One Playscape by Shin Architects | Yellowtrace

Dongcheon Dong j One Playscape by Shin Architects | Yellowtrace

Dongcheon Dong j One Playscape by Shin Architects | Yellowtrace

Dongcheon Dong j One Playscape by Shin Architects | Yellowtrace Photography © Rohspace.

 

Dongcheon Dong J. One +Playscape by Shin Architects // This imaginative kids indoor playground area in Korea was designed by Shin Architects and spreads over 3 levels and 300sqm.


 

Camperdown Childcare by CO-AP | Yellowtrace

Camperdown Childcare by CO-AP | Yellowtrace
Photography © Ross Honeysett.

 

Camperdown Childcare by CO-AP // Located in the inner west of Sydney, this new 80-place childcare centre accommodates indoor and outdoor playspaces, an abundance of daylight and natural ventilation and a low VOC materials specification. Dominant bright colours, usually associated with institutional childcare accommodation, were avoided in preference to a palette of natural, honest materials and finishes to create a familiar residential feel.

A large cut-out to the existing warehouse roof created outdoor playspaces open to the elements while the remaining roof provides shade and shelter over the new internal building forms. Where possible, the warehouse building elements retained were left in original condition to reveal layers of site history.


 

Restructuring & Safety Works of Saint Jean Schools by Dominique Coulon & Associes | Yellowtrace

Restructuring & Safety Works of Saint Jean Schools by Dominique Coulon & Associes | Yellowtrace
Photography © David Romero-Uzeda.

 

Saint Jean Schools by Dominique Coulon & associés // The ground-floor spaces of this school in Strasbourg, France, have been rearranged as fluid, welcoming spaces with rounded, playful, dynamic shapes. The curved shapes contrast with the regularity of the classrooms and lend emphasis to special moments in the days such as going to the library and letting off steam in the playroom.


 

Family Box by Crossboundaries Architects | Yellowtrace
Photo © Chaoying Yang.

 

Family Box by Crossboundaries Architects // Family Box in Beijing, China functions both as an indoor playground and a kindergarten for children up to the age of twelve. It hosts different kinds of activities, from swimming, playing games to various classes ranging from music, dancing, crafting to cooking.


 

Jerry House by Onion & Arisara Chaktranon & Siriyot Chaiamnuay | Yellowtrace

Jerry House by Onion & Arisara Chaktranon & Siriyot Chaiamnuay | Yellowtrace

Jerry House by Onion & Arisara Chaktranon & Siriyot Chaiamnuay | Yellowtrace

Jerry House by Onion & Arisara Chaktranon & Siriyot Chaiamnuay | Yellowtrace
Photography © Wison Tungthunya.

 

Jerry House by Onion + Arisara Chaktranon & Siriyot Chaiamnuay // Layers of springy nets stretched across an atrium at the centre of this beach house in Thailand by Bangkok studio Onion, creating a vertical playground that can be used to travel from the top floor to the bottom.


 

Blocky Art Installation by Daniel Buren Debuts at Museo Madre | Yellowtrace

Blocky Art Installation by Daniel Buren Debuts at Museo Madre | Yellowtrace
Photography courtesy of Daniel Buren and DB-ADAGP Paris.

 

Colourful Art Installation by Daniel Buren at Museo Madre //Daniel Buren is known for his signature use contrasting coloured stripes that integrate visual surface and architectural space. For MADRE Museum’s first installation of 2015, French artist transformed a large room on the ground floor of the museum into a real game of life-size buildings, or a “kindergarten” in the environmental dimension. Spheres, cubes, cylinders in wood blocks evoke the cognitive potential of game and language, causing children to interact with the artistic installation as if they were interacting with their own community.


 

The Brutalist Playground by Assemble & Simon Terrill | Yellowtrace

The Brutalist Playground by Assemble & Simon Terrill | Yellowtrace

The Brutalist Playground by Assemble & Simon Terrill | Yellowtrace
Images courtesy of Assemble.

 

The Brutalist Playground by Assemble & Simon Terrill // Architecture collective Assemble has teamed up with British artist Simon Terrill to create full-size foam replicas of playground designs from architecture’s Brutalist era at the Architecture Gallery at RIBA, London. Visitors can climb on the pastel pink, blue and green objects, which form stairs, slopes, platforms and a slide, as well as a large disc with a yellow metal balustrade that is elevated at one end.


 

Little Shoes Shop by Nabito Architects | Yellowtrace

Little Shoes Shop by Nabito Architects | Yellowtrace
Photography by Eugeni Pons.

 

Little Shoes Shop by Nabito Architects // Situated near Paseo de Gracia at the heart of Barcelona, a boutique dedicated to children’s shoes has been designed by the team at Nabito Architects. The flagship ‘Little Shoes‘ shop is characterised by its interior, where the walls, floor and ceiling are covered in a sinuous and continuous ceramic tile pattern. The concept stems from a children’s notebook when the pages are printed in a grid format to assist in writing, numbers and drawings.


 

Kaleidoscope Kindergarten in Mallorca by A2arquitectos | Yellowtrace

Kaleidoscope Kindergarten in Mallorca by A2arquitectos | Yellowtrace

Kaleidoscope Kindergarten in Mallorca by A2arquitectos | Yellowtrace
Photography © Laura Torres Roa.

 

Kaleidoscope Kindergarten in Mallorca by A2arquitectos // This design involves the transformation of a squash court in a Kindergarten in Majorca, and it incorporates a traditional toy concept: the Kaleidoscope. Variables such as external elements, natural light and the children on the move generate a set of effects of light and reflections, modifying the space and creating multiple worlds when children are inside.


 

Kindergarten Susi Weigel by Bernardo Bader Architects | Yellowtrace

Kindergarten Susi Weigel by Bernardo Bader Architects | Yellowtrace
Photography © Adolf Bereuter.

 

Kindergarten Susi Weigel by Bernardo Bader Architects // Huge round cushions in shades of mustard yellow and cornflower blue add colour to the pale concrete and timber interior of this kindergarten in western Austria by local studio Bernardo Bader Architects. The two-storey building has a raw concrete structure, which is left exposed in parts of the interior. The architects sourced local fir to clad the outer walls and used acacia wood to line interior surfaces.


 

Kinderhouse Arche Noah by Liebel Architekten | Yellowtrace

Kinderhouse Arche Noah by Liebel Architekten | Yellowtrace
Photography © Michael Schnell.

 

Kinderhouse Arche Noah by Liebel Architekten BDA // The building is situated in an industrial zone between two roads (one with a high volume of traffic). The scale is child-friendly, large and small alike, and respects the difference between kindergarten-age children and toddlers. The house allows children to engage all of their senses – the group-rooms get light from both the southeast and the southwest through the elevated room spaces, so that the progression of the day is visible. The building is flooded with light by floor-to-ceiling glazing, skylights, and the atrium.


 

Kindo by Anagrama | Yellowtrace

Kindo by Anagrama | Yellowtrace
Images courtesy of Anagrama.

 

Kindo Store by Anagrama // Branding and architecture firm Anagrama has built a giant bead maze that echoes Postmodernist colours and shapes in Mexico children’s clothing store Kindo. Using oversized geometric beads placed on pastel and neon-coloured pipes that double as clothes rails, Anagrama designed the interior to engage visitors of all ages.


 

Montpelier Community Nursery by AY Architects | Yellowtrace

Montpelier Community Nursery by AY Architects | Yellowtrace
Photography by Nick Kane.

 

Montpelier Community Nursery by AY Architects // London studio AY Architects has constructed a small timber nursery in a public garden in Camden. The architects designed three large skylights to maximise natural lighting, then angled them across the roof to a north and south orientation. White-washed timber panels were used to build the walls and roof, while the exterior is clad with black-stained larch decking. Floor-to ceiling windows stretch along the north-west elevation to allow the playroom to open out to an enclosed garden playground.


 

Nakanosawa Project by Ryo Yamada | Yellowtrace

Nakanosawa Project by Ryo Yamada | Yellowtrace
Photography © Yoshiaki Maezawa.

 

Nakanosawa Project by Ryo Yamada // This house, designed by Ryo Yamada is located in Sapporo – Japan’s snow covered northernmost region. Since it is typical in midwinter for the snow to pile up up to 5m high, it was the architect’s priority to provide efficient heating inside the house. At the same time, the architect sought out to create a fun space for the young family who lives here during the long winters.


 

New School in Piazza Delle Erbe by PFP Architekten | Yellowtrace

New School in Piazza Delle Erbe by PFP Architekten | Yellowtrace
Photography © Anna Positano.

 

New School in Piazza Delle Erbe by PFP Architekten // Hamburg office PFP Architekten has made a college created with overlapping boxes that jut out in the direction of a piazza in the historic centre of Genoa, Italy. Beautiful colour palettes mix perfectly with marble floors and expanses of white.


 

Nursery in the Jardines De Malaga in Barcelona by Batlle i Roig Arquitectes | Yellowtrace

Nursery in the Jardines De Malaga in Barcelona by Batlle i Roig Arquitectes | Yellowtrace

 

Nursery in the Jardines De Malaga by Batlle i Roig Architectes // The redesign of the Malaga gardens in Barcelona, promoted the allocation of a small site for the construction of an education facility (nursery). The interior features bold colours applied in wide stripes across the corridors and stairwells, creating strong points of interest in otherwise ordinary space.


 

Nursery School Pamplona by Pereda Perez Arquitectos | Yellowtrace

Nursery School Pamplona by Pereda Perez Arquitectos | Yellowtrace
Photography © Pedro Pegenaute.

 

Nursery School Pamplona by Pereda Pérez Arquitectos // Although this kindergarden by Pereda Pérez Arquitectos feels more like a high-tech lab (or a psych ward!) rather than a space for young children, the absence of colour is offset with the quality of spaces, access of light and an interesting use of materials.


 

Peanuts by Uid Architects | Yellowtrace

Peanuts by Uid Architects | Yellowtrace
Photography © Hiroshi Ueda.

 

Peanuts by Uid Architects // UID Architects have conceived this nursery school as a Peanut. The new structure features huge curved walls with no sharp corners, and big windows that fill the space with organic light. The building is surrounded with a beautiful garden, exactly where the youngsters are encouraged to discover and connect with nature.


 

Preschool Kindergarten & Family Center by Modus Architects | Yellowtrace

Preschool Kindergarten & Family Center by Modus Architects | Yellowtrace

Preschool Kindergarten & Family Center by Modus Architects | Yellowtrace
Photography by Hannes Meraner.

 

Preschool Kindergarten & Family Centre by Modus Architects // Result of a competition for two new school buildings and a public square located at the centre of a new residential neighbourhood in Bolzano, Italy, the project is the first of the two schools to be completed. The two-story building bends and sways to accommodate three programs into one structure, opening up on the inside to reveal three outdoor courts.


 

Primary School De Vuurvogel by Grosfeld van der Velde Architecten | Yellowtrace

Primary School De Vuurvogel by Grosfeld van der Velde Architecten | Yellowtrace
Photography © René de Wit.

 

Primary School De Vuurvogel by Grosfeld van der Velde Architecten // Grosfeld van der Velde architects have completed ‘de Vuurvogel’, an educational complex consisting of a primary school with gymnasium, after-school club and day nursery; two different users under one roof. The design was based on the concept of doing away with traditional corridor zones, with all functional rooms having a dual purpose as thoroughfares, thus making best use of the available space. The facade features a fun interpretation of a “screen” that’s formed out of 3-dimensional letters.


 

Edible School Wac | Yellowtrace

Edible School Wac | Yellowtrace

Edible School Wac | Yellowtrace
Photography © Iwan Baan.

 

Edible School by WORKac // WORKac designs the first Edible Schoolyard in New York. The project, to be located at what is now the school parking lot, consists of an organic garden, a mobile greenhouse, a kitchen classroom, and a systems wall containing a rainwater cistern, solar batteries and a chicken coop.


 

Ekya Early Years Kanakapura Road by CollectiveProject | Yellowtrace

Ekya Early Years Kanakapura Road by CollectiveProject | Yellowtrace
Photography © Tina Nandi Stephens.

 

Ekya Early Years: Kanakapura Road by CollectiveProject // This preschool in India reconceives an abandoned watch factory and overgrown two acre site into a lush, colourful and immersive environment for learning. Designed as an exclusive preschool for both Montessori and Kindergarten environments, the new design capitalises on the beauty of an old industrial building, re-purposing the existing shell as a framework for spacious, naturally ventilated and sunlight filled classrooms.


 

Haunted Play House is Torafu Architects | Yellowtrace

Haunted Play House is Torafu Architects | Yellowtrace

Haunted Play House is Torafu Architects | Yellowtrace
Photography © Fuminari Yoshitsugu.

 

Haunted Play House is Torafu Architects // A ‘Haunted Play House’ occupies one of the galleries at the museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. Conceived for the summer children’s exhibition, ‘Ghosts, underpants’, the architectural installation encourages behaviours normally forbidden in this type of gallery setting such as running, touching, making noise. Stemming from the creative minds of Torafu Architects, the dynamic playground presents seemingly endless hallways, portraits which appear to follow the movements of the patrons, and eerie lighting, setting a ghostly atmosphere within.


 

Kleinerdrei by PARAT | Yellowtrace

Kleinerdrei by PARAT | Yellowtrace
Photography © mfruscella & dmanduzio.

 

Kleinerdrei by PARAT // The concept of ‘Kleinerdrei’ (meaning less than three) in Hamburg offers everything for people under three years – a shop, a midwifery practice and a course room. The shop design concept provides a horizontal division at a height of 90cm – the average size of a three year old child. The yellow base presents elements to explore and play. The cabinets are fitted among others with peepholes, a dollhouse and a crawling tunnel.


 

Vardo Hut by Doherty Design Studio | Yellowtrace
Photo by Andy Johnson.

 

Vardo Hut by Doherty Design Studio // Melbourne-based Doherty Design Studio has designed and built a modern interpretation of a Cubby House at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show to create their nomadic-look Vardo Hut and to help raise funds to prevent youth homelessness.


 

Kfar Shemaryahu Kindergarden by Sarit Shani Hay | YellowtracE

Kfar Shemaryahu Kindergarden by Sarit Shani Hay | YellowtracE
Photography © Amit Geron.

 

Kfar Shemaryahu Kindergarden by Sarit Shani Hay // A unique educational centre by interior designer Sarit Shani Hay was recently opened in Kfar Shemaryahu, Israel. Covering 2,400 m², it spans a cluster of six kindergartens, a play commons, and an empowerment centre which provides psychological services to children of the community. The design theme was inspired by the location of the compound and the history of ‘Kfar Shemaryahu’, originally an agricultural settlement, hence the agricultural motifs at the core of the concept.


 

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Editor In Chief
Google+

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Nick Hughes, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Interior Design, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places.

3 Responses

  1. Jess

    Wow – such a comprehensive selection of children’s architecture! I thoroughly enjoy finding projects that I have yet to discover. Thanks for the article Yellow Trace. May children’s architecture continue to grow as a priority for childrens’ learning.

    Reply
  2. Peter

    Fantastic article ….. you can’t help but want to be child again when you see these :)

    Reply

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