Children thrive in an environment that encourages imaginative play and curious explorations. This was the thought behind four new learning and play spaces that Vudafieri-Saverino Partners recently completed for international educational brand Gymboree Play & Music, the international learning specialist that has 700 locations in more than 40 countries.
About as far from staid and institutional as you can get, the four spaces – two in Shenzhen and two in Suzhou – are washed in energetic palettes and immersive installations. Each centre is an interpretation on the theme of “travel,” using shapes, colours and tactile materials to recreate distinct natural environments at a scale that children can discover and explore.
Appropriately childlike and abstract, the six dreamlike scenarios – the ocean, the forest, the canyon, the desert, the Arctic and space – each provide a backdrop on which the children can build their own worlds, ones where they can rest under the canopy of a tree, swim with underwater creatures, run up and down sand dunes or take a rocket ship to the moon. “We tried to interpret the environments through the eyes of the children,” say architects Tiziano Vudafieri and Claudio Saverino, “creating a context that provided them with sensations rather than images.”
Upholstered climbing benches, short staircases and ramps and circular hideaways can be found in nearly every room, encouraging active play as much as imaginative. And the immersive designs are not contained to the classrooms, but can be found in hallways and transitional areas and, in the Shenzhen Upper Hills location, a central garden playground that lets the fun meander outdoors.
Even employee offices, meeting rooms and training areas are – more subtly – light and magical, with the stimulating colourways and familiar geometric forms carried through.