Children's Aid Society early childhood center
The Existing Early Childhood Curriculum called for two classrooms, one gym, and one music room. However, the trustees saw the project as an opportunity to create a new concept within the structure of the existing curriculum.
The Imaginasium was to be one part playground, one part museum, one part classroom. The invented word was coined to treat the space as a prototype. The goal was not only to create a safe space for active play in an urban environment, but as importantly to create a space that was truly fantastic and unique.
The first hint that something is astray is the miniature ”alice” door at the end of the entry hallway. Once inside….there is a two-storied cheese tower bathed in yellow light. The carpet acts not only as a visual pattern, but also provides a soft safety surface for falls and tumbles. Without direct outdoor light, the use of a photographed “blue sky” allows the Imaginasium to have good weather any day of the year. A cascading water table is made from bright blue fiberglass, adding both a tactile and auditory invitation to play. Velcro and magnetic walls provide opportunities for children to manipulate the Imaginasium. Large custom foam elements transform from giant building blocks to an impromptu stage. This fantasy landscape also allows for hiding places and quiet places of refuge. The Juliet balcony gives an additional sense of power, looking over the colorful landscape.
COMPLETED 2008 / 8000SF
PHOTOS: Mikiko Kikuyama