Monday, September 3, 2012

Reinterpreting Play

After visiting multiple clinics and various settings for child therapy, it has become extremely apparent that the design of the interior spaces is often an afterthought. Most clinics and OT gyms are set in renovated office buildings which can restrict the layout and utility of space. Due to this most OT equipment is just ordered from a standard company and installed as stand alone equipment with little thought to how it integrates with space. The first thought that came to my mind after observing how the clinics function is how limited they are because of the spatial restrictions of the buildings that they are confined to. The design of most clinics for children's therapy is extremely dry and boring... although they are definitely warm spaces developed with the child in mind they are very far from the maximum potential. So here are some images of settings that break the mold of the norm. I am using these designs as precedent studies and seeds of inspiration.

The first set of images is the Aarhus gymnastics and motor skills hall in Denmark. Each picture I have chosen specifically for the content within it. You will notice that the equipment in this gym is very similar to what you would find in an Sensory Integrated Occupational Therapy gym, however the design of the gym itself is completely unique.

 This awesome playground is in Japan, it is called the Woods of Net. It has such a playful composition that is welcoming to children. The soft material allows for safe play, in addition there are hanging swings that are also reminiscent of the equipment in an OT gym. The children can swing on the structure or climb underneath it. It is a creative design that could be applied directly to sensory integration therapy.

Rock walls are also found in SI OT gyms... why not express them so that they are integrated to the space, perhaps in this way they will not be seen as a specific obstacle but rather integrated into the structure of the surrounding environment. 

Taka-Tuka Land shows that small crawl spaces for children can be creative and fun, children often seek tight spaces for comfort and retreat so why not make them inviting. The varying heights and depths of space can help with the proprioceptive and vestibular therapy. 

I am aware that economics plays a large part in design and most often children's clinics operate on an extremely limited budget. However the role of a architectural designer is to work with a budget and still create stimulating spaces. 

1 comment:

  1. We are working on a project in Fargo, ND for a Sensory Gym and other activity space to serve children with sensory integration disorders. As part of your post graduate work, have you encountered any design professionals who specialize in this area?