I love the philosophy behind svet vmes, a young architectural practice that transform poorly designed educational and working environments; thus utilising the spaces in-between.
At the Šenčur Primary School, Šenčur, Slovenia, 2011, the young architects have re-designed this boring (and rather depressing) school corridor with a colour scheme (the colours also giving each classroom a unique identity), and fun interactive components for climbing on and sitting in; thus offering the children a variety of play - individual and social experiences.
UNDERGROUND CAVE, Ledina Kindergarten, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2012
From storage space to a magical underground cave, this project works within the existing and rather constrained space using colour, texture, light and a multi-faceted form to create an exciting play landscape for the children attending this kindergarten. The new environment, with it's gloomy shadows, lights, secret corners and steep inclines encourages the children's imagination and tests their physical capabilities.
CHILDREN'S POLYGON, Supernova Shopping Centre, Ljubljana - Rudnik, Slovenia, 2013
This project poses a way of transforming commercial (and very adult) spaces into something that considers children's play. Situated within the busstling shopping mall, svet vmes have successfully created a Slovenian-inspired varied and experiential landscape, where children can crawl, climb, draw, listen to stories and hide from a rather aggressive shopping environment.
INTERVIEW WITH THE TEAM
1. Where did you go to university, and how did you guys meet?
We met at the Faculty of Architecture in Ljubljana, Slovenia. We all studied or worked abroad for a shorter period of time after our studies (Italy, Germany, Denmark and Belgium).
2. How did you come to create an architectural practise that focuses on the "in between" spaces?
We have done extensive research about educational buildings already during our studies. All three girls in our team of four have focused on architecture for children in their respective theses so it only made sense to join our efforts and knowledge in establishing the main »theme« of our studio.
The second reason for focusing on the spaces »in between« was the fact that all educational architecture should obey very strict design rules and regulations. This fact results in architecture, that can be quite cold and lifeless, especially the common areas of each such building. Therefore, much can be done to give character and life to an existing building by adding to those »spaces in between« (corridors, halls, threshold spaces, unused spaces, etc.) It made sense to use our theoretical and practical knowledge on the subject of educational architecture and start improving the quality of living and learning conditions of younger generations. It is the quality that matters, not the quantity...
3. How do you think this relates to children?
A child is very prone to stimulation from its environment. It makes a huge difference if his or her school is made in a way that stimulates these senses, or if it is a cold and foreign place. Based on the projects we have already done, our work has achieved this in no small measure. Children tend to stay in the newly refurbished spaces for longer periods of time, they achieve better academic results, find interest in collaborating with others and love to come back to school. This is really important.
4. What do you believe is the most overlooked or neglected architectural characteristics or false presumptions that architects make when designing for young children? (i.e. scale, textures, light, function, decoration)
Usually architects forget the simple fact that it is the children they are designing for. The most overlooked characteristics is therefore playfulness. Children sense the world differently and much more intensive than adults. Adults perceive their surroundings mostly by sight and interpret the information more rationally, while children employ all their senses and react to the inputs on more emotional level. They learn on their every step and should be encouraged to do so. The spaces, designed for children, should be involving for them, but not intimidating. When creating spaces for children, one should think "outside the box".
These guys are ones to watch, and I for one can't wait to see these projects come to life!