Chiara Del Core 2 jun 2020 Articles 0 comments
The didactic space project

One of the rules that a good designer must always observe is represented by the attention in meeting the needs of the end user. In the case of spaces intended for the pre-school education of children, this rule must be observed with greater commitment. In the current didactic scenario, the educational model is continually subject to changes due to social and pedagogical change and for this reason, school structures must be flexible, functional and studied on changing needs. The spaces in question must be studied and designed with the help of psychologists and educators who have a particular sensitivity in identifying the tastes and needs of the little ones. The kindergarten is thus considered a "social container" capable of enclosing multifunctional spaces within it which, through shapes, colors and materials, contribute to the emotional growth of children. All environments must ensure efficiency, comfort and psycho-physical well-being, adapting to the needs of an ever-changing didactic and educational framework. Furthermore, it is important to remember that the facilities intended for children from 3 months to 5 years of age are the first places that are frequented and for this reason they must be welcoming and as similar as possible to domestic spaces. These are the spaces where the first contacts will take place outside the family nucleus and for this reason it is important that they are lived in a serene way, promoting sociability, exchange and creativity.

The nursery school must be accessible and stimulating: it is good that strong personality is given to the internal environments, by achieving the right balance between the domestic atmosphere and the recreational space. Formal choices must foster a sense of community and belonging to a context where children can feel part of a whole and where they are able to make their first contribution to the community. Even from the point of view of dimensions, too long neglected by the design of educational structures until the end of the 20th century, it is advisable to provide child-friendly spaces which, however, do not cause the construction of an artificial world far from external reality. As for the interior design, it is essential to characterize the rooms with different functions, usually through illustrations and themes taken from the natural sphere or from fairy tales, with which children have already become familiar from the earliest stages of life. This is to avoid the creation of anonymous and uninspiring environments and instead create contexts in which the child is encouraged to think and interact with others. Given that from the planimetric point of view, the nursery will have to respond to specific needs and for this reason the spaces will be variable, the environments that make up the "typical" structure are represented by: common spaces (entrance, distribution and relationship spaces, canteens and toilets) sections for teaching, workshops, rest rooms, reception rooms for parents, staff rooms.

Here are some useful guidelines for optimizing the project for each type of environment.

These are all those spaces accessible to children, educators, technical staff and external visitors and being very popular and sometimes overcrowded places it is essential to guarantee accessibility and safety for the little ones. In the outdoor area it is good that the threshold is protected by a covering, even partial, to ensure the parents' waiting and waiting even in case of adverse weather conditions. Furthermore, if there is a larger canopy, the area can be used as a temporary parking for the strollers of the little ones. The first environment is represented by the entrance, an area with a concrete function of access and a symbolic meaning of passage from the family to the community sphere of the child. Once inside, personal lockers are often found in the entrance hall, especially in the absence of real changing rooms for children. An element that cannot be missing in this area is represented by the bulletin board or the wall prepared for notices and information to parents and visitors outside the structure. As for the spaces of relationship, thanks to which different environments are connected, they must be safe and free from any type of encumbrance that hinders the safe movement of children and adults. The floors must be non-slip and easily washable in order to guarantee the best hygienic-sanitary conditions. Among the most important activities carried out by small users, there is the consumption of meals that can take place in specific corners of the classrooms or if you have spatial availability, in a dedicated canteen where tables with chairs will be placed for groups of 5 children. For this function, there must be a sterile room used for the preparation of meals for infants and older children. The kitchen must comply with the rules of a hygienic-sanitary nature and provide an area for the preparation of food, one for cleaning dishes and one for waste disposal.

Typical scheme of a nursery school 0-3 years with subdivision of functional spaces
Click on the image to access and download the dwg of the category Nurseries and kindergartens.

They form the vibrant hub of kindergarten, the place where children spend most of the day together. The classrooms are distinguished according to the age group of the children and according to the function they play, between those for training activities and those for recreational activities. It is a subdivision that is sometimes limited due to the primary need to ensure flexibility and variability in the use of spaces. In fact, it is necessary to make the free movement of children possible in each classroom and allow them to move from one environment to another depending on the activity they have to carry out at the specific moment. For this purpose, sometimes sliding partition walls are chosen that allow maximum flexibility in the use of the rooms. The furniture must be able to be positioned in a changeable way and must meet the needs of children of different ages: soft and anti-trauma cushions and rugs, play areas and reading corners for the older ones who will be accompanied in understanding the first hardcover books.

The time of the afternoon rest and of the most frequent of the newborns represents an element of extreme importance for the child's daily well-being. Kindergartens must provide rooms intended for this function that are silent and relaxing, in order to stimulate sleep. The classic furnishings include beds and cots but, if the environment is also used for other activities, platforms with mattresses that can be comfortably moved as needed will be more appropriate. In addition, it is essential to implement the best choices from a chromatic and finishing point of view, always with a view to promoting relaxation and inner peace. To this end, soft colors, cold colors are preferable and if there were the possibility, wall or ceiling projections that relax the little ones. 

Laboratory environments represent a fundamental element for the creative effectiveness of nursery schools. Conceived as spaces that change according to the function they play, within them different activities can be carried out by children with the help of educators. They range from psychomotor skills to painting, from reading to theater, to dance and music. One of the fundamental prerogatives of these areas is represented by flexibility: the rooms must be able to be adapted according to the needs and the specific educational program of the kindergarten. In addition, each room must be equipped with the appropriate equipment and furnishings necessary to maintain order and consequently the safety of the little ones.

The toilets are distinguished according to the users between those for children and those of adult staff. In the first case there is usually a large room which houses the sinks also used for the cleaning required after the creative activities of painting and sculpture. The potties are in a more collected position and not visible from the area in front. In kindergartens also intended for infants, there will be a special independent room equipped with changing tables and facilities useful for hygiene and changing babies.

A plus value of the kindergartens is represented by the presence of an outdoor play area where children can run free in the open air. These are green courtyards, internal gardens or even patios, where the little ones can make direct contact with the context and carry out recreational activities. This space must be designed with extreme care and if there is the possibility, it is necessary to insert playful structures and vegetation, placed according to a spatial planning that connects them with the internal environments. Each compositional element can influence the child's experience with respect to the green area and for this reason it must be chosen very carefully. As for bushes and shrubs, they must be selected with precision, avoiding toxic or dangerous species for the safety of small users. Another important aspect is characterized by the accesses of the structure: safe gates and fences without interruptions will ensure the free and safe use from the outside and block the uncontrolled exit of children. The optimal solution is to move the open area back from the road, so as not to incur unpleasant accidents. In some cases, the school garden can fulfill a dual function: that of a space belonging to the kindergarten and that of a garden open only in certain time slots for children in the neighborhood where it is located.

Typical scheme of a nursery 3-5 years with subdivision of functional spaces and outdoor green area
1 - Classrooms; 2 - Toilet; 3 - Sleep area; 4 - games shelving; 5 - Outdoor patio - garden; 6 - Lockers

Click on the preview to access the category Nurseries and Kindergartens where there are numerous design schemes in dwg format

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