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Saturday, 12 July 2014

A fine balance

Designing a child care centre is a fine balance..... or rather requires a specific fine balance to achieve a wonderful result.

The balance between:
form and function
natural light and artificial light
durability and beauty
safety and risk
cosy and spacious
colourful and neutral
noisy and quiet
sight lines and hidden places
communal spaces and solitary spaces

I  don't think I quite have the formula yet and even if I did I am not sure I would have the budget to build it.

Most often the Architects, contractors, mill workers, painters, electricians etc..... don't understand the space they are building, the peculiarities that a child care facility demands.  They are patient with my requests for dimmer switches, lowered counters, big windows, sound barriers but not visual barriers.... but they tire of my requests for seemingly insignificant details like the specific location of outlets and switches, colours, door latches and storage.  We compromise on finishes and appliances and much, much more.

At Cranberry Children's Centre, our new baby, they put the kitchen and bathroom on motion censored lights..... as soon as there is 20 minutes of inactivity the lights go off.  "Energy saving" they told me.  Not understanding that 20 minutes of no one in the building moving would be cause for great alarm, is high unlikely and therefore a switch so we can eliminate or dim the lights when desired (like nap time) is preferable.

At this late stage in the build my request, as reasonable as it seems to me, is a real pain in the neck to everyone else. Or so it seems.

I pick my battles.  They pick theirs. The budget often trumps both.

We hold onto our vision of beautiful spaces for children and Educators.

These are spaces they live in for many hours a day, a week, a year.....

They must be functional and safe but that is the least they should be.

We can dream for more, work for more, build the spaces that childhood deserves.

So we have moved from "dwelling in the possibilities" as Emily Dickinson quipped to "living in the reality".

From design to ...... done.

We have done much right here at Cranberry.
Learned from other experiences.
Pushed a little harder for our dreams.
Found allies to help us advance our cause.
Let our voices be heard.

Represented the children who will enliven and enrich this space with their brilliance.
For that is the real reason we do any of this at all.