Environment for Children

I was invited to a talk by Christopher Day in Cardiff so thought I’d take a look at his work to see just what he was about. Can’t say I established that fully, but I did find an very interesting article by Christopher that feeds into the research I’ve been undertaking recently into my sons bedroom. The article, Environment for Children by Christopher Day gives some useful guidence in designing an environment for small children.

I recommend that you read the article for yourself, but my summary follows:

“Childhood is, essentially, the journey of growing up […] Small children need
protection from the wider world, whereas adults are only fully alive when engaged in it.”

Small children need:

  • As “small children live in a world between fantasy and fact” they need somewhere to retreat to, somewhere not too well lit, somewhere that provides a daydream inducing twilight.
  • A secret place, a calm, safe, protective place. We all remember our dens behinds settees or under cushions – a place to hide, play or simply retreat to.
  • Angles, edges and regularity are for the adult world, small children need spherical, soft edged, womb like places.
  • “Infants don’t think. They experience – with their whole bodies and through all their senses.”
  • Touch-friendly, tactile materials in their surroundings. Natural materials such as wood, clay and stone have a tactile vibrancy and ‘life’ not found in ‘unwelcoming’ man-made materials such as concrete or plastic.

“Even in unpromising surroundings, we can create environments for children.”

These needs are best provided for in out-of-the-way places in cellars, attics or under utilised parts of the home. Children want secret territories, adult unfriendly environments.

“The reassuring substantiveness and visual softness of curvilinear cob walls, for instance, suit infants, whereas exposed timber posts’, beams’ and struts’ visually explicit logic suit teenagers’ intellectual curiosity.”






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