“A child is beautiful, powerful, competent, creative, curious, and full of potential and ambitious desires."
One of the core values behind Loris Malaguzzi's teaching philosophy, Reggio Emillia, is that children are capable of constructing their own learning environments. This is the initiative behind an innovative new early childcare centre we were engaged to design in 2014. The vision for the centre, the first of its kind to be built in New Zealand, is to foster an educational space in which a child can learn through his or her unique journey of exploration and discovery.
The Reggio Emillia philosophy aligns well with First Light Studio’s design ethos. As a building that maximises natural daylight, passive heating and cooling, and utilises energy-efficient technologies, Curious Kids will minimise its reliance on external resources. As a net-zero energy centre, Curious Kids will generate all of its required energy with rooftop photovoltaic panels. The building will become - in both design and operation - an inspirational tool to demonstrate the importance of environmental protection through sustainable design and renewable energy.
With Reggio Emillia, the environment is the ‘third teacher’ and should be enhanced through design to inspire and delight - and the design of the centre itself is as important as the teachers within it. Orientated around a central piazza, two learning spaces open up to the outdoors and are filled with natural light, order & beauty. The piazza connects to the landscape via a large central deck. Inside, the materials are warm, natural and durable.
Through efficient use of space and open-plan, open-ended design, collaboration, communication and exploration are encouraged. All spaces are designed with strong and deliberate connections to one another, enabling the children to communicate across different age groups and to gain an understanding of the learnings and experiences of everyone at the centre.
The underlying vision of Reggio Emillia, Curious Kids and First Light Studio is to create a learning environment that enables its young inhabitants to develop relationships with the world around them, themselves and each other.
"The environment should act as an aquarium which reflects the ideas, ethics, attitudes and culture of the people who live in it..." - Loris Malaguzzi