By Sarah Scott
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In Hosmarinpuisto School and Daycare, Finland, it is possible to see from one level through to the next and beyond through a layer of open screens (image 8). 43 ARCHITECTURE FOR CHILDREN 1 2 44 THE CHILDREN’S CENTRE ENVIRONMENT 1 Giulia Maramotti Infant–Toddler Centre, Reggio Emilia, Italy, photograph courtesy Lapis Architetture Studio Associato, Reggio Emilia On a subtler level, at the Maramotti Centre in Reggio Emilia, semi-opaque skylights are scattered 2 Soinisen Koulu Primary School, Helsinki, Finland through wide gaps underneath screens the internal courtyard (image 2).
The landscaping dominates, with large expanses of green and the use of planting for screening. In all cases this contextual responsiveness is contrasted by the unusual built form of the structure, whether it is a curved concrete roof, oversized roof lanterns or a highly orthogonal and structured fenestration. Other centres, such as the Cowgate Under 5’s Centre in Edinburgh, the Loris Malaguzzi centre in Reggio Emilia and Apple Seeds in New York City, are responsive to their local culture. Reflecting the local architectural language and scale, they embrace and reflect the community context but their interiors, glimpsed from without, are in complete contrast.
Avoid chemical paints and plastics. Sound: Providing sound absorption materials and sound insulation to delineate quiet areas can make a significant improvement to the ambient quality of a centre. Musical features, if used judiciously, can provide hours of amusement such as the musical ‘soft metal’ stairs at the Maramotti Centre in Reggio Emilia (see p. 65). A dynamic and interesting ceiling plane: Because of their small stature and many ways of moving other than just walking, children are constantly looking up, so the features of the voids above take on particular significance.