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Outdoor gathering space
  • Special Mention
  • Nomination for the “Portfolio Architecture / Public Architecture” section

Outdoor gathering space

Authors: arh. Liviu-Vlad Moraru, arh. Ioana Moraru
Firm: Oculus Office

Authors’ Comment

School is one of the most influential environments for our education. Thus, its great responsibility to offer positive experiences. Responsible architecture has the ability to respond to a community needs and demands by creating a friendly context and good content. Even though children love to spend time outside, then inside, we often see that the exterior space is not properly taken care of, having tedious playgrounds or inaccessible green spaces. The need to have an appropriate exterior environment is very important for a child’s development and it should be designed carefully.

Our proposal is an outdoor gathering space in the courtyard of a school in Galați. The task was to design it between the existing trees and integrate them in the solution. The curving platforms around the branches underline the importance of nature in creating an inclusive and sustainable learning place. The circular path features a series of landings accessible only for the little ones, the small compartments encourage the children to explore, interact freely and acknowledge new information in a playful way.

At ground level, the construction proposes a covered area where children can have classes, in a large gathering space. The proposed shape help’s the children focus on the teacher.
The relationship with the exterior environment is an important factor in the learning process and the way it responds to the child’s needs it can create or not appropriate spaces for children.

Boundaries are fundamental in defining places in architecture. A strong physical boundary is the school’s building, but the space around it is a transition space. And so, it can either make children feel excluded or included by allowing flexible interactions and activities. The identity of a place is given by its end users and how they give it a purpose. The proposal becomes a place for small gatherings where children can play and learn.

A space where all their senses are stimulated: visually (integrating the existing trees), tactile (using friendly materials), olfactory (the fresh air), sound (the rustling of leaves) helps creating a genuine experience, live and lasting. Also interacting with other children is important in the learning process, and the proposed space offers plenty. Children can climb, crawl to get from one level to another, they can sit and just talk with one person or a group of friends. Children need to be active so that they can consume their energy and so be able to stay still for the quiet activities.

The proposed space allows teachers to monitor children without interfering with their activities. A safe play is where you can explore, climb by yourself and it is very important for a child’s development to offer physical growing opportunities.