Friday, 18 April 2014

China Breaks Ground on Spiraling Green Roofed Kindergarten in Wuxi

UDG China Breaks Ground on Spiraling Green Roofed Kindergarten in Wuxi UDG China Wuxi Xieli Kindergarten - Inhabitat   The hyperlink above links to the article at Inhabitat



Interesting concept. It deals with the growing trend in cities (at least in Sydney) that I'm encountering more frequently i.e. the creation of childcare centres for high density housing/commercial projects. In other areas of the world the childcare centres are fully enclosed for climatic reasons (extremes of heat/cold), pollution or noise. The challenge is to retain nature in playspaces that are in complexes that are frequently, partially or totally enclosed. Some would argue that creating and including these types of playspaces is tokenistic, however I would suggest that compared to some of the soul destroying plastic, rubber and steel monstrosities I have witnessed, natural playspaces are an oasis for children's curiosity, creativity and if properly designed, can provide calculated challenges that are as safe as any KFC playground. 

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Sensory Texture Board

Just completed and on its way to its new home at SDN Beranga.



From the SDN website - 'SDN Beranga Children’s Education and Care Centre is a demonstration, autism-specific service that integrates early childhood intervention and mainstream early childhood education. We offer a comprehensive and flexible approach to early childhood education and early childhood intervention for young children with an autism spectrum disorder and their families..... SDN Beranga provides a comprehensive long day care service for 24 children incorporating the following two key components, a ‘lighthouse centre’ in Rooty Hill and 13 satellite centres, enabling greater flexibility in meeting individual child and family needs.'

The board is 2.4 in length and 1.2 high and incorporates a wide range of textures. Because this board will be located outside the materials used to create it needed to be impervious to moisture and solar degradation.

The colours chosen are earth tones although this pictures has been digitally enhanced to show the various materials used. The materials vary in colour, texture and perceived texture. For instance compared to the naturally coloured and textured wooden floorboards in the centre of the board, the floorboards in the left panel have been painted with three different specialist paints to emulate galvanized steel, porcelain tiles and smooth gloss enamel paint. The wood-like panels in the lower right of the board are made from a composite plastic material and feel differently to the natural floorboards and the hardwood cut off.  In the second top panel one side of a raw hardwood cut off  has been treated with three coats of smooth marine grade compound and feels entirely different to the untreated side (in case you're wondering there is no splinter danger)

The three metal panels are indented with different raised patterns and have been painted different colours to reflect or absorb solar thermal energy, raising or lowering the panels ambient temperature (never to a dangerous point) so at different times of the day each panel panel will feel warmer or cooler.

The three yellow segments have been taken from a rubber floor tactile and are finer and softer in texture to the coarse hard black rubber in the second upper panel (Yes that is a Bunnings doormat)

The remainder of the materials are ones the children will encounter in their playspace or public playgrounds. There are four different types and lengths of artificial turf which differ from each other as well as from the hessian in the mat (upper second panel). The StoneSet (very kindly created and donated by StoneSet), lower third panel and the thirteen rounds, are graded fine to coarse (panel) and light to dark (rounds). Yes I threw in a joker to the rounds. The rosette of material in the fourth upper panel is made from shade sail material and is smooth and so durable you can't cut it with a Stanley knife. The rubber soft fall panels in the second lower panel are coarser and smooth than the floor tactile and the doormat.  

Finally, the panel is built on multiple levels with actual (wooden) and perceived boundaries (colours, levels and materials).  

Friday, 4 April 2014

Truck track



One of the Centres that I had designed a playspace for, had requested as a must have, a truck track.  This request was based on emerging interests (both boys and girls) playing with model trucks, cars and diggers. The track has a speed bump, a raised central area to roll the vehicles down and I have been told is very popular.






Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Newest Childrens Furniture


We've just completed some more childrens' furniture from recycled timber. This time he was lucky enough to collaborate with Olwyn Avery, the renowned and Tres, Mucho, talented artist, poet and jewellery maker. I've created a quick bio for Olwyn below, photos of the new furniture are underneath that.


As mentioned above Olwyn is a very talented artist, poet and jeweller. Her work has featured in a number of exhibitions. She is the proud mother of four beautiful children and she currently resides in Newcastle. She is the proprietor of White Footprint Designs. You can visit her Facebook page and see all work here or message her on Twitter here.  And I'd have to agree with her Twitter page, she is more than 'a bit awesome'.

New Childrens' Furniture 
























Saturday, 22 March 2014

Scallywags, Long Daycare Centre, Bathurst


I was recently sent some photos of another completed project, this time in Bathurst. Scallywags, with the help of  a local contractor, has completely changed the face of their centre to the point where the Director mentioned in an email that staff noticed an immediate change in the childrens' play patterns. She stated that the children were calmer and more centered in their activities, even when the playspace had all age groups in attendance.

Playspace, Before, 2013 


Playspace, After, 2014

Playspace, Before, 2013 


 Playspace, After, 2014

Playspace, Before, 2013 


Playspace, After, 2014

Playspace, Before, 2013


 Playspace, After, 2014

Playspace, Before, 2013


 Playspace, After, 2014


Playspace, Before, 2013 


Playspace, After, 2014

Playspace, Before, 2013 


Playspace, After, 2014

Playspace, Before, 2013


Playspace, After, 2014


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A. A. Gill: Schools Are Ruining Our Kids | Vanity Fair

A. A. Gill: Schools Are Ruining Our Kids | Vanity Fair

Read the full article from the link above.


'In the 100 years since we really got serious about education as a universally good idea, we’ve managed to take the 15 years of children’s lives that should be the most carefree, inquisitive, and memorable and fill them with a motley collection of stress and a neurotic fear of failure. Education is a dress-up box of good intentions, swivel-eyed utopianism, cruel competition, guilt, snobbery, wish fulfillment, special pleading, government intervention, bu­reauc­racy, and social engineering.'

Friday, 7 March 2014

The Humble Bumble of the Bee | Anarchy & the EYLF Pirates

The Humble Bumble of the Bee | Anarchy & the EYLF Pirates


 I have to admit that I've always been uncomfortable with blind compliance, the "we do it this way because we've always done it that way" mode of thinking that I saw so much when I was a teacher and director. I always thought that unless something continues to evolve it stagnates and that really good ideas can get bogged down in the paperwork.  To challenge the status quo is not non-conformity because the status quo is made to be broken. 

This is a fantastic blog that really challenges thinking about early childhood practice - read it!