Jiahua Liang, Abstracting Nature [×]
Children today have fewer opportunities for outdoor free play or regular contact with nature, especially in cities where outdoor space is increasingly limited. This research explores strategies for abstracting nature for the design of indoor space. I have applied this approach to the design for city kids an early learning centre in an urban context. It seeks to provide the benefits of outdoor learning which contribute to children’s well-being. The design approach merges with the childcare curriculum to include environmental education in the daily activities.
The project abstracts qualities of the natural environment such as texture, form and undulation of the terrain. It also seeks to invite natural elements such as breeze, sunlight and plants. Titled “Mountain|Sea” the design conceptualises the building as above and below the ground and simulates some of the qualities of exploring such places. Aspects of risk are introduced through surface textures, and terrain found on the mountain. Risk taking allows children to develop good decision-making and also improves their coordination which together benefits their self-esteem. The building facade is used to create a dynamic and immersive experience of exploring and viewing world under water. Ephemeral qualities of the sea are also introduced such as ripples caused by wind and reflection and refraction of sunlight. The design seeks to create a richly diverse built environment for children to explore and interact with qualities of nature.
I see the abstraction of nature as a valuable approach for remedying the lack of natural environments in cities especially for children’s well-being and early development.