January 7 2010
Perhaps out of necessity or just for a sad lack of creativity, architects and designers of kids spaces - kindergartens, schools, playgrounds — have been obsessed with durability, cost-savings and maximization of space.
For so long, a tiny nod to fun and play has sufficed. A few splashes of colour and some clunky plastic structures have made a depressingly boring space supposedly suitable for children. Yes, money is often the main barrier, but it certainly cannot be the only one. We have needed a change in how we design for kids and we think this change is happening.
Kids’ environments are slowly getting more serious consideration in terms of design, innovation, creativity and groundbreaking solutions. We have also noticed, that adult work spaces have started to resemble kiddy play rooms with flexible and crazy-creative work areas, lots of colour, fun details. The result of all this? We now see kids’ play spaces that look sophisticated yet fun, AND we see adult work spaces that fit the exact same bill. Soon you won’t even notice when kindergarten ends and work life begins!
A recent example of a sophisticated and creative private kindergarten comes from Israel. The cool, Bauhaus-inspired building is located in Tel Aviv metropolitan district’s upscale, mainly residential neighborhood of Ramat Hasharon that is also known for the Israeli Tennis Centre and the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music.
Tel Aviv-based Lev-Gargir Architects designed this space with Bauhaus principles in mind in both floor plans and elevations. The usual requirements — safety, flexibility, good light — are all well met, but what we like is the sense of light and airy freedom.
The slightly Scandinavian sensibility is a beautiful change to the visually busy sensory overload that is often offered at the other end of the spectrum of new children’s spaces. This makes the lovely statement that a stimulating, creative environment for children does not need to scream. Children themselves provide the colour, movement, sounds and action, and the quieter, calmer surroundings leave room for the kids’ own creativity.
For this project, Lev-Gargir Architects worked with the well-known local children’s interior, furniture and toy designer, Sarit Shani Hay, whose details and playful touches in furniture, materials, colors and accessories express an understated respect for children. Nothing is in your face, aggressively demanding attention. Shani Hay is a graduate of London’s Chelsea College of Art and Design. She opened her Tel Aviv studio in 1995.
Lillach Lev and Elan Gargir, both graduates of Haifa’s Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), established their practice in 1999. Lev-Gargir Architects works in a variety of projects from private residences to commercial buildings and retail environments. - Tuija Seipell