Niches and natural materials? Yes. But please avoid barriers!, says the author of our new book Childcare Facilities.
Text: Natascha Meuser
Photo: Zalando-/ Fröbel-Kooperationskindergarten, Berlin/Germany, © HEJM
1. Listen to carers and pedagogues
Architects are no pedagogues, and not all of them are parents. It is essential to speak to carers, who know more than anyone else about the daily needs of children at a kindergarten.
2. Create quiet, private spaces
Sometimes children also want to be alone. They love caves and niches. Even when they band together, they mostly form small groups. Therefore, make sure larger rooms can be divided into smaller spaces. Often, simply hanging a piece of fabric is enough.
3. Don’t overprotect the children
Children can only learn through experience. Excessively coddling them deprives them of an opportunity for growth and development. A nursery doesn’t need protective rails everywhere, nor should every surface be covered in extra-soft materials. After all, children don’t have such protective measures at home either.
4. Make use of the entrance area
The entrance area is often only used twice per day: as soon as the children arrive and hang up their coats, the space remains unused until they are picked up at the end of the day. You can use the space more efficiently, for example by turning it into a play area.
5. Work with natural materials
It is never too early for children to learn about sustainability and good taste. What better way to do this than to design nurseries with natural, environmentally friendly materials? There are already many wonderful examples, built from timber, in rural regions of Europe and in Japan.
6. Offer different vantage points
Who didn’t love scaling boulders or climbing trees in the garden as a child? Young children love spaces that offer different heights, such as bunk beds, benches, and platforms.
7. Use colours and childish images in moderation
It is only a myth that children want their environment to be full of garish colours. Images of Micky Mouse and fairy tale figures covering the walls and windows often reveal more about the adults than what the children want. Less is more.
NATASCHA MEUSER offers architectural guidance to the largest kindergarten operators in Germany. Her Construction and Design Manual: Childcare Facilities will be published in the coming months. It is the first manual specially dedicated to the long-neglected kindergarten building typology and presents 60 contemporary childcare buildings from across the world in detail.
This text is taken from DOM magazine, no. 2, from May 2020. Our magazine is published four times a year – twice in German and twice in English. Receive a free copy with every order in our webshop.