Designing Spaces for Children

Kindergartens and Childcare Centres

Whether you are planning to open a new childcare centre or a kindergarten or looking at renovating existing spaces there are a number of concepts that are worth keeping in mind.

Creating an environment that sparks a child’s interest goes a long way towards encouraging their learning; inviting them to discover and explore as they play.

In our experience, in designing a kindergarten or a childcare centre, there are a number of ideas that help encourage and motivate learning experiences for everyone in that space. (Whilst different technical parameters apply for childcare centres compared to kindergartens, the same general design principles apply).

Contrast, texture and colour

Incorporating contrast and texture into the childcare environment provides the children with different tactile experiences. They are encouraged to explore ideas of shapes, and the ideas of big and small, high and low. Whilst it can be tempting to use colours that “kids” like, these spaces are used by children, carers and educators. Like a home, these are spaces for all ages and shouldn’t exclude anyone.

Volume and scale

Other design factors to consider include building in a change of volume and scale. Low height/child eye level windows can be contrasted with different ceiling heights; creating spaces that are cosy or expansive giving children an opportunity to be active and boisterous or retreat.

Acoustics and lighting

Acoustic design is also important. Using absorptive materials at a high level (where hygiene isn’t an issue) helps moderate noise. An ability to hear and mitigating sensory overload is important for learning.

Equally important is making sure children get plenty of access to natural light; an important factor for their emotional regulation and bio-rhythms. Whilst optimal orientation can sometimes be difficult to achieve, skylights can help. Ideally tuneable and dimmable LED lighting which replicates outdoor conditions is used when needed.

Practical considerations

Practical considerations include the use of resilient but natural finishes (eg timber, tile, marmoleum) for the areas children are constantly touching. These surfaces are wipeable and help with keeping areas hygienic.

Dayboro Kindergarten

In designing Dayboro Kindergarten, warm, natural materials such as plywood and marmoleum provided the interior with a similar hospitable and domestic atmosphere. The fresh, lively colour palette was designed to appeal to the children. Contrasting the smooth, bright materials such as laminate and marmoleum against the natural textures of plywood and concrete resulted in an environment that offers the children visual interest managing to be both playful and completely functional.

DAYBORO KINDERGARTEN
Mango Hill Village childcare centre

Mango Hill Village Childcare Centre

For the Mango Hill Childcare Centre, each of the indoor spaces is intended to be varied, with the size, scale and colour palette of each indoor space responding to each respective age group. Muted tones in indoor spaces for babies contrasts with the more vibrant palette used in spaces occupied by older children. Opening on to the piazza and surrounding outdoor play areas, natural light fills the indoor spaces and gives those spaces context.