Wooden Architecture for Children: Designing Warm and Playful Spaces

Wooden Architecture for Children: Designing Warm and Playful Spaces

Geometrical Space for a Two Kid Family / Atelier D+Y Blue and Glue / HAO Design Podgorje TimeShare Kindergarten and School / Arhitektura Jure Kotnik MRN Kindergarten and Nursery / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro + 71

The environment we inhabit influences us directly. For kids, this environment must be especially safe and accessible, yet simultaneously stimulating, so that they can move and develop freely without jeopardizing their physical safety. We have already written about how to create playgrounds in interior spaces. Today, we put together a series of examples that use the warmth and versatility of wood to create interactive, creative, and fun interiors for children.

Wooden projects are highly useful for architects designing children's environments, regardless of whether they are residences or collective spaces, because they allow for the creation of openings and recesses that arouse the interest of the children. With wood, it is possible to create a miniature house or even a tree house, including hiding spots, ramps, and climbing walls, in addition to exclusive furniture or games. Furthermore, it is possible to stimulate children's imagination by taking advantage even of simple wooden structural elements.

1. Striking Structures

EcoKid Kindergarten / LAVA
EcoKid Kindergarten / LAVA

The EcoKid kindergarten, designed by LAVA architects in Vietnam, is an excellent example of how to take advantage of the versatility of wood to make the structural elements of a building more interesting, creating a playful and distinctive environment.

EcoKid Kindergarten / LAVA
EcoKid Kindergarten / LAVA

In the case of the Hakusui kindergarten, developed by Yamazaki Kentaro's Design Workshop, the wooden structure helps to configure the space, varying at each level to provide different possibilities for use and play.

Hakusui Kindergarten and Nursery / Yamazaki Kentaro Design Workshop
Hakusui Kindergarten and Nursery / Yamazaki Kentaro Design Workshop

On a smaller scale, elements such as handrails can provide value to children and babies, as we see in the Australian project Glen Iris House by PHOOEY Architects. It is essential to emphasize that safety must be the starting point of any project involving young children.

Glen Iris House / PHOOEY Architects
Glen Iris House / PHOOEY Architects

2. Niches and Nooks

The HIBINOSEKKEI, Youji no Shiro, and Kids Design Labo offices use this type of resource often in their projects. In the AN kindergarten, niches have been designed in the form of small houses scattered throughout the project, while in the KM kindergarten and nursery, reading nooks have been inserted into niches with wooden seats. In the EZ kindergarten, the stairwell acts as a playful space.

KM Kindergarten and Nursery / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro
KM Kindergarten and Nursery / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro
AN Kindergarten / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro
AN Kindergarten / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro
EZ Kindergarten / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro + Kids Design Labo
EZ Kindergarten / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro + Kids Design Labo
AN Kindergarten / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro
AN Kindergarten / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro

In Rotstein Arkitekter's Sjötorget kindergarten, these characteristics appear with the addition of colors, especially primary colors.

Sjötorget Kindergarten / Rotstein Arkitekter
Sjötorget Kindergarten / Rotstein Arkitekter

3. Possibilities of Movement

Both Atelier D+Y's Geometrical Space for a Two Kid Family project and The Family Playground, designed by HAO Design, create connections between different floors in the most stimulating way possible: slides.

The Family Playground / HAO Design
The Family Playground / HAO Design
Geometrical Space for a Two Kid Family / Atelier D+Y
Geometrical Space for a Two Kid Family / Atelier D+Y

The climbing wall is increasingly being used in collective spaces for children. In the Danish project Ama'r Children's Culture House, developed by Dorte Mandrup, the wall is created using the same slope as a side stair.

Ama'r Children's Culture House / Dorte Mandrup
Ama'r Children's Culture House / Dorte Mandrup

At the Child Development Support Center Kiitos Hamura, designed by the trio consisting of HIBINOSEKKEI, FUKUSHIKEN, and Youji no Shiro, a traditional climbing wall was implemented, located vertically and perpendicular to the existing wall.

Kiitos Hamura / HIBINOSEKKEI + FUKUSHIKEN + Youji no Shiro
Kiitos Hamura / HIBINOSEKKEI + FUKUSHIKEN + Youji no Shiro

Located in Slovenia and designed by Arhitektura Jure Kotnik, the Podgorje TimeShare project offers its users, among many other possibilities, a low-rise slide, associated with a small-scale 'urban path'.

Podgorje TimeShare Kindergarten and School / Arhitektura Jure Kotnik
Podgorje TimeShare Kindergarten and School / Arhitektura Jure Kotnik

The EZ kindergarten as a whole is an excellent architectural design reference for children. In relation to movement, it stands out for including a climbing wall and a slide, both made of wood, creating a very cozy environment for play.

EZ Kindergarten / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro + Kids Design Labo
EZ Kindergarten / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro + Kids Design Labo

Similarly, NUBO, created by the PAL Design office, was designed to function as a large wooden gaming circuit.

NUBO / PAL Design
NUBO / PAL Design

4. A House Inside the House

Designed according to the proportions of young children, small houses have historically contributed to the development of creativity in children. They are present in the Ouchi projects of HIBINOSEKKEI, Youji no Shiro, and Kids Design Labo, Bagritsky and Loft Apartment, Ruetemple, and in the Hanazono, C.O, and MRN kindergartens (the result of the partnership between the HIBINOSEKKEI and Youji no Shiro offices). Their designs range from the traditional 'gabled house' to the abstraction of a home, shaping the space through recognizable elements such as doors, windows, and stairs.

MRN Kindergarten and Nursery / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro
MRN Kindergarten and Nursery / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro
Loft Apartment / Ruetemple
Loft Apartment / Ruetemple
Bagritsky / Ruetemple
Bagritsky / Ruetemple
Ouchi / HIBINOSEKKEI, Youji no Shiro, Kids Design Labo
Ouchi / HIBINOSEKKEI, Youji no Shiro, Kids Design Labo
Ouchi / HIBINOSEKKEI, Youji no Shiro, Kids Design Labo
Ouchi / HIBINOSEKKEI, Youji no Shiro, Kids Design Labo
C.O Kindergarten and Nursery / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro
C.O Kindergarten and Nursery / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro

5. Fun Stairs

Presented below, the Bagritsky project includes a ladder made of drawers, which in addition to providing extra storage, allows the child to climb up to their raised bed.

Bagritsky / Ruetemple
Bagritsky / Ruetemple

6. Furniture and Equipment

Wood can be used to create a stage that, in itself, provides a variety of play opportunities. The architects of Arhitektura Jure Kotnik designed a stage with wheels and curtains for the Podgorje TimeShare kindergarten, which allows creativity to be brought to different areas of the school.

Podgorje TimeShare Kindergarten and School / Arhitektura Jure Kotnik
Podgorje TimeShare Kindergarten and School / Arhitektura Jure Kotnik

The Peanuts School by UID Architects utilizes a circular wooden piece of furniture that serves both to organize toys and to limit the internal space. The cabinet additionally provides a constant view of the outside.

Peanuts / UID Architects
Peanuts / UID Architects

In the case of the Hanazono kindergarten and nursery, wood appears in several of the furniture items. We highlight the painting easels, which have been designed at the ideal height for the children, motivating their artistic skills and socializing.

Hanazono Kindergarten / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro
Hanazono Kindergarten / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro

At The Kagerou Village, the result of the partnership between Tato Architects and ludwig heimbach architektur, the wooden furniture sets are located in the courtyard, but they can also be installed in covered or closed areas.

The Kagerou Village / Tato Architects + ludwig heimbach architektur
The Kagerou Village / Tato Architects + ludwig heimbach architektur

Wood can also be stimulating in its simplest forms. It can be used to make blackboards that allow children to draw in the common areas of their school. This occurs in the C.O kindergarten and nursery, designed by HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro, in Japan.

C.O Kindergarten and Nursery / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro
C.O Kindergarten and Nursery / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro

7. Effects of Light and Shadow

There are several projects that could illustrate the richness of the interaction between wooden slats and other surfaces due to the effect of light and shadow. The Yellow Elephant Kindergarten, designed by xystudio is a good example of this visual effect.

Yellow Elephant Kindergarten and Nursery / xystudio
Yellow Elephant Kindergarten and Nursery / xystudio

8. Details on Wooden Doors or Tables

Last but not least, fun can show up on more traditional woodworking projects, adding some playful details. In the Blue and Glue project, by HAO architects, the closet doors in the children's room include niches in different colors. At The Family Playground, designed by the same office, the cabinet door has been covered with a melamine laminate with a blackboard finish.

Blue and Glue / HAO Design
Blue and Glue / HAO Design
The Family Playground / HAO Design
The Family Playground / HAO Design

It is also possible to add a touch of fantasy to the beds or tables, as we see in the RMP Apartment designed by the Triplex Arquitetura office.

RMP Apartment / Triplex Arquitetura
RMP Apartment / Triplex Arquitetura
About this author
Cite: Migliani, Audrey. "Wooden Architecture for Children: Designing Warm and Playful Spaces" [Arquitetura de madeira para crianças: projetando espaços aconchegantes e divertidos] 11 Jun 2020. ArchDaily. (Trans. Franco, José Tomás) Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/941108/wooden-architecture-for-children-designing-warm-and-playful-spaces/> ISSN 0719-8884

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