Location Sukhumvit 49 Road, Bangkok
Area 300 SQM
Project Year 2018
Photographs Ketsiree Wongwan
Nature is by far the best learning ground many of us would agree upon.
Over the recent years we had all been experiencing increasingly hostile outdoor conditions, conditions that may be at times too harsh for our little ones to comfortably take in what nature has to offer. It was important for us to consciously bring in some of its inspirational aspect into the design thinking of this sheltered playground.
An amusing image calls to mind while recollecting on how toddlers constantly strive to make sense of their environments. They toddle, spreading their legs wide apart, swaying from side to side, wobbling back & forward while establishing a new relationship with the ground.
They maybe enthralled with their new found upright position but it was the ground beneath their feet that caught our attention.
The ground and its tangible effect becomes an underlying design element of the project. By conceiving and implementing numerous types of architectural terrain and play structure as the tool to encourage the little crawlers and toddlers to walk, climb, dive, crawl in countless ways, may be one of the most fundamental methods in helping them to fully explore their physical and cognitive abilities.
Nature’s geological diversity gave us an entertaining lead into pairing the 4 programmatic zones with their conceptually inspired counterpart.
The Entrance hall (The Fog & the Tree Tunnel)
Solid wood planks covering the entrance floor and walls forming an archway; Solid wood planks covering the lockers and nursing rooms forming a towering tunnel; Gradient film on extensive glass walls forming a foggy & misty background; They would all come together to suggest a solid, warm, and enchanting entry. Hard flooring shifts to low-impact flooring as the little ones become physically charged with excitement while moving further into the play areas.
The Transition hall (The Hill & the Burrow)
A raised wooden platform delineated by transparent safety net creates an elevated terrain for climbing and sliding while forming an intimate hideaway beneath it. The elevated terrain is physically connected to the main play area with 2 wooden arched portals at one end and visually connected to the covered outdoor zone at the other.
The covered outdoor area (The Dune & the Oasis)
Especially placed along the east-facing façade with the milder morning sunlight, the covered outdoor area is where one can plunge into a sand pit looking for hidden artifacts, jump for joy at the grass covered trampoline while observing the four legged creatures roaming around the dog yard below.
The main play area. (The Island & the Lakes)
An emphasis was placed on creating continuous circulation loops around the playhouse and the island, filling up the little ones’ uncontrollable drive for repetition.
Pieces of custom foam block come together to form topographically inspired balls pit. Thousands of translucent balls seem to be the most applicable substitution for an actual water mass as the fluidity of water is still present in part and yet the service and maintenance procedure is significantly more manageable.
Natural light plays one of the most important role in this part of our design process.
Multiple skylight planes are placed evenly throughout the main play area to resemble the illumination & the direction of sunlight from the sky above.
As most of the exterior walls face the strong southern and western sunlight, large glass facades together with a system of floor-ceiling pixelated felt screen were chosen to maintain the visual connection between the interior and the exterior, while reducing the solar heat gain and enhancing the acoustic performance of the indoor playground.
By placing a square unit at the top and incrementally transforming into a circular unit through 21 variations, light aperture increases as the pixelated screen reaches the ground. Each unit was loosely threaded with a vertical sling allowing it to be receptive to the physical touch. Whether by rigorously turning the pixels in search of a hidden creature or simply touching it as one moves through the soft terrain, the ever-changing composition throughout the day causes the pixelated screen to project a captivatingly complex light & shadow display similar to that found in nature under the wavering tree branches and leaves.
The images of the natural landscape and wild creatures were inconspicuously printed on each unit as part of the bigger picture. The scale and the subtlety of the entire screen challenge the viewers to take a step back, as the big picture would only become clearer with the right distance & perspective.
The integration of the natural environment in this sheltered and challenging playground may be subtle yet profound. It creates a rather unusual combination of serenity and thrill, an ideal condition for setting up curiosity and mindfulness at the time of great cognitive and social development.