It was a revolutionary concept, implying that the child might use what was presented to them to self-improve, to create, explore and test their physical capabilities; and thus grow and learn.
Almost 200 years later and architects are continuing to embrace the concept, infusing elements of play into the architecture of their early childhood environments.
Anansi Playground Building / Mulders vandenBerk Architecten
Walls may provide a surface for children to express their creative talents - becoming a changing piece of art in the process.
Kindergarten Kekec/Architektura Jure Kotnik
Dragen House/Moller Architects
Floors may become roofs, creating extended outdoor landscapes for play.
Skanderborggade Day-Care Centre/ Dorte Mandrup
For sliding, running or sitting...
Left: and right: Escuela Infantil Pablo Neruda / Rueda Pizarro
MAGK + illiz architektur/Maria Enzersdorf Childcare Centre
Children’s Museum of the Arts/Work Architecture Company
Hallways may become rope nets and stairs a slide!
Left: Yuyu-No-Mori Nursery School and right: Houtoku Kindergarten/Environment Design Institute
A large atrium space gets fully utilised in the Yuyu-No-Mori Nursery in Japan - where the children may play among the nets above the heads of their classmates.
Tromso Kindergarten/70N Arkitektura
Flexible internal walls may cater for a variety of functions, separating space, creating miniature spaces within, and offering a number of experiences within one larger space.
A building's form may even become a giant piece of play equipment - inviting children to climb and interact with it.
Likewise, the Taka-Tuka-Land Kindergarten transforms a rather dull building with an exploding facade which becomes a climbing frame.
Here a window interacts playfully with the incoming sunlight, creating a glittering and magical experience for the children playing inside.