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.