Apr 17, 2015

A new centre in Belgium is elevated off the street with 6 "living areas" housed around a central sunny atrium

Designed by ZAmpone Architectuur, the Pluchke (or "fluffy" in English) Daycare Centre is thoughtfully designed in considering the views of the building's young users.

Situated in Belgium's Brussels, the now 75 child-capacity centre was to replace an older and tired centre catering to 35 children.

The small site situated in front of a primary school was fully utilised by placing the daycare on the level above ground. Thus maintaining the street level for the public and the centres' administration spaces.

Six "living rooms" (group rooms or classrooms) each with their own outdoor terrace surround a central sunlit atrium and circulation space.

Thus connecting all of the spaces visually and physically.

The stairs also exhibiting a slide and playground - making the journey from up to down fun!

The architects cleverly considered the scale of the child in all instances. Offering a multitude of spatial experiences as well as furniture and hooks that can easily be used by the child.

Furniture and cabinetry is all custom designed - maximising the available space.

A minimal yet considered material and colour palette is chosen to convey a sense of calm and warmth...

Light timber, concrete, steel and muted paint colours are combined to create coherency and visual interest.

Nooks are provided for children to hide away in for rest or play.

While hanging light fittings give a homely feel.

Above, a view to one of the outdoor terraces is provided with a window nook.

A longitudinal section through the building shows the use of light wells offering an abundance of natural sunlight into the internal spaces.

Ground floor plan (above) - 1. Entrance, 2. Coaches, 3. Reception, 4. Director, 5. Staff Room, 6. Dressing Area, 7. Storage, 8. Kitchen, 9. Ironing Area, 10. Toilets,  14. Elevator,

Level 1 (above - 11. Living Area, 12. Washing Area, 13. Sleeping Area, 15. Terrace

Via Dezeen.

Apr 14, 2015

Bloglovin - a different way to follow and read your favourite blogs

Never heard of Bloglovin? I love it, as now I can read snippets of information from my favourite blogs that I like to follow and choose what I would like to delve into further. Try it out!

You can also now follow the AEC on Bloglovin (by clicking here)

Feb 19, 2015

The new Paper Nursery is a beacon among the bleak

A dense urban site surrounded by social housing blocks in France now looks out onto the landscaped and folding roof of the new 'Paper Nursery'.

Designed by Wild Rabbits Architects (WRA), the design takes its inspiration from origami - the playful and patient art of folding paper.

A difficult site, the new building was to be constructed over an existing car park. Whilst being set back from the street required an entrance through the ground floor of the existing adjacent building.

The only indication of the new nursery behind - an undulating bronze canopy, inviting the visitor to follow it within.

Steps lead up to a sunny yellow play area, from which all the classrooms break out onto.

The undulating canopy twists and folds - forming floors, wall and roof garden. Golden latticed semi-transparent screens shade the interior both from sun and the eyes of the surrounding buildings.

Section showing the entrance through the adjacent housing block (left) and the underground car park (right).

The new centre sandwiched in on all sides by bland tower blocks stands like a jewel among the bleak.

High quality materials and finishes says this building is proud. It respects the inhabitants inside.

Colours are selected for their calming qualities and to give the spaces identity.

Natural tones and the use of plenty of windows both at ground and clerestory level give the inside spaces a feeling of warmth and a sense of wellbeing.

Thanks to WRA for sending this in to the AEC.

Nov 10, 2014

Another fantastic new nursery in Japan

A simple material palette and a layout that focuses on a shared kitchen / dining and green outdoor play space makes for an excellent example of what an EC centre should be.

An arched blackboard wall separates the shared or "public" realm and the group or "childcare" space, with cubbies for bags and shoes cleverly delineating a locker / entrance space.

Internally, a simple material palette of white walls, timber floors, structure and joinery with hanging lights makes for a homely environment (that also takes children seriously).

A communal kitchen and indoor & outdoor dining space creates a lively "hub" and occasion around meal times.

Windows are placed at alternating heights inviting childrens' interaction.

The internal exposed beams carry on to the external overhanging eaves. While the "boxy" frames create visual interest to the otherwise "plain" corrugated metal facade.

All of the children's spaces face onto the internal outdoors providing much natural light, ventilation and access to play outdoors.

The shared internal garden play space features predominantly natural elements - trees, plants, an abundance of grass, rocks and tree stumps...

While man-made features include criss-crossing ramps promoting physical play (running, walking, cycling) and picnic benches encourage social interaction.

Deep window sills allow them to be inhabited (sat on, climbed on, jumped off)...

Here you can see the internal layout hierarchy - with children's rooms all facing the outdoors and the large shared playroom and kitchen / dining spaces - creating the sense of community and security.

Nov 7, 2014

"A learning landscape" is this concept by NORD for a marine educational centre

It is like a giant early childhood centre.

The idea of rooms being enveloped by an undulating or zig zag roof canopy, letting in or expelling heat/light and air as permitted has been seen in a number of early childhood structures before (like here, here and here).

NORD's adoption of the concept is probably because it is a fitting one for learning, advocating respect for the natural environment.

Says Molander Pedersen (partner at NORD Architects):

"We have developed a learning landscape where education is everywhere. It is in the landscape, in the building and in the transition between nature and culture."

Located in Malmö, Sweden, the new marine centre winning concept comprises of a 700-square-metre visitor centre with a large overhanging roof. The indoor and outdoor spaces are blurred - with activities in and out inviting users (children and adults) to explore the marine and physical environments using their senses.

Inside, further contributing to the learning experience the building's water handling, energy consumption and ventilation functions will be communicated to the building's users.

“With the changing climate, rising oceans and increased severity of cloudbursts, there is a need more than ever to understand the profound influence that marine life and the oceans have on our lives”, says Pedersen.

I look forward to seeing the built product.

Via Dezeen.

Oct 30, 2014


Opposite the Turner Contemporary Museum and within a Victorian grotto on Folkestone seafront stands a temporary installation by Dutch artist Krijn de Koning titled Dwelling.

The colourful architectural labyrinth walkway comprises of a series of angled walls punctured with doorways and windows that create a trail for visitors to navigate through, while using the existing surroundings to create a new experience of the space (see more images here).

The installation provides an air of fun and exploration - notions inspired in many early childhood settings to promote self learning through play. And upon further investigation, Krijn has in fact worked with architects Teeuwisse & Willems to create a space for an educational centre in Soest, Germany.

Here, a wall and ceiling structure stretches over the common hall space and on the other side creates two smaller play areas.

Like a creeper, the green form "climbs" across the existing surfaces creating new areas to explore and experience physically.

The installations providing a new lease on what would otherwise be a "boring" or rather standard (walls, ceilings and floors) space.

Via Urbis.

Oct 28, 2014

Ormiston Activity Centre - a beacon among the bland

It may not be for early childhood, but due to my frequent musings every time I drive past it I thought I'd share.

In the words of Linda Tyler from Architecture Now, the "technicolour dreamcoated" structure designed by ArchOffice is a "beacon in the wilderness of the 94-hectare Barry Curtis Park"

Termed the Ormiston Activity Centre, the building sits in the new Auckland development site of Flatbush, which is estimated to house 40,000 people by 2020.

Unfortunately, the area is already blighted with rows upon rows of "matchbox houses" like the above.

Hence my astonishment at witnessing the colourful "activity centre" which sticks out like  a sunny sore thumb among the dreary urban monotony.

A stair tower, meeting room for up to 80 persons, toilets and a viewing platform (over the toilet block) like building blocks, make up the elements of the building.

While precast concrete, concrete block and vertical steel flat bars coloured in cyan, magenta, yellow and green (CMYK) clad the exterior and form the balustrade above.

While I am saddened by the site's development so far, this wee youthful structure is a beacon that says there is hope for the area yet.