Architecture for Children: Understanding Children Perception towards Built Environment Abstract
This dissertation discusses the importance to learn on children’s architecture based on the perception of the children. It focuses on the approach to design and planning of built environment for young children, early to middle childhood. A trans-disciplinary approach is introduced integrating the knowledge of childhood development, architecture and landscape architecture. Therefore, teaching design studio on children’s architecture begins with the discussion on functioning of children to the built environment. That is, how sensorial and motoric actions as well as social activities of children are influenced by the elements of architecture and landscape. Finally, the effects on children’s functioning are discussed in terms of designing and planning buildings and landscape for the children.
Teaching architectural design studio on the planning and designing spaces for young children is generally based on adult’s perception that may not relevant to the children’s functioning. Form, shape, colour and function are the parameters applied in designing and articulating the spaces inside and outside the architecture. The design approach is somewhat not consistent with the literature on children’s functioning in indoor and outdoor spaces, which suggests that the value of a place is determined by its function rather than form and colour. In other words, adults perceive space more on form, function and aesthetic whereas children see the space more on its functions rather than aesthetic. As such, architects perceive a pediatric ward of a hospital as a space that accommodates beds, aisle for movement, toilets and bathrooms, a nurse station, a doctor room and a dressing room. For play, a playroom is attached to the ward which housed toys and television and a floor for rest. Studies in pediatric nursing suggest that such setting leads to boredom, anxiety, and stress to hospitalized children. Among the reasons that lead children to behave regressively are the healthcare setting are: (i) strange place to stay, (ii) no sense of control, and (iii) little choice and lack of things to manipulate. That is, hospital indoor environment limits children to practice different motoric and sensorial activities. Thus studies in landscape architecture suggest incorporating garden with the ward for children to be away from the stress. Moreover, buildings designed by architectural students are final, that is, leaving little room for children to change or manipulate the architecture. According to the theory of childhood cognitive development and literature on children’s perceptual psychology, such architecture may not generate sense of place attachment. Consequently, the children could not develop sense of favourite place to the architecture. As a result children feel bore to go to school or feel fear to stay in hospital. In other words, the architecture fails to stimulate the children’s cognitive functioning, affords insufficient space for physical functioning on the children’s terms, and allows little opportunities for the children to socialize in their own choice and control. The domination of adults on design and planning of children’s space can be seen in kindergarten. The practice most likely confines the young children inside the building and occasionally allows the children to engage with outdoor space such as garden and lawn area. In the indoor, the children may experience with a variety of furniture and plastic toys in a controlled micro-climate where temperature, lighting and humidity are similar throughout the duration of they stay in the building. In other words, much of the children’s cognitive development is the result of routine experience in a confined space. Eventually, the children understand the architecture is an element that affords little changes. On the other hand, the outdoor space is spacious and open towards the...
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