Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has finished work on their first elementary school for coworking giant WeWork, continuing the company’s journey into education (and eventually neighborhood planning). WeGrow, what BIG describes as a “10,000-square-foot learning universe," resides inside of WeWork’s Manhattan headquarters in Chelsea and serves three- to nine-year-old children. What started out with a test class of only seven students has expanded into a full-fledged school, and WeGrow is already taking applications for the 2019 academic year. From the newly-released final images of the space, it appears that BIG pulled back from the more industrial look proposed in the renderings revealed last November. The completed WeGrow space is full of soft, biomorphic forms with rounded edges, and clad in soft materials, usually felt. Instead of miming traditional classrooms, BIG has broken the school’s programming up into what it’s termed a “learning landscape.” That includes four open classrooms, workshop and community spaces, an art studio, music room, and several play areas across a mostly-open floor plate. “Children realize they have agency when design is less prescriptive and more intuitive,” wrote Bjarke Ingels in a statement. “We don't have to tell kids how to use the space and every interpretation of how they use the space is good.” To that end, much of the space has been designed to accommodate the whims and needs of young children. Most of the partitions are made from three tiers of shelving, each adjusted to the arm height of the three age groups of students. Those low-lying shelves have the added benefit of letting in natural light and allowing teachers to keep track of all of their students across the floor. Various activity spaces across the school encourage students to explore and play in different environments that evoke the outdoors. Felt clouds mounted on the ceiling are lit by special bulbs from Ketra that change color and intensity based on the time of day and the blob-like plywood enclosures provide students with elevated vantage points and private nooks. Each of the school’s “learning stations” features furniture scaled to fit both adults and children, and a teacher-parent-student lobby incorporates seating meant to accommodate all ages. That includes an enormous felt “brain puzzle” seating system that can be taken apart and rearranged as needed, or just for fun. According to WeWork’s CEO Adam Neumann, the ultimate goal is to have a WeGrow integrated in every WeWork. That would certainly tie into the company’s ambitious goal of offering services at every stage of a customer’s life.
Posts tagged with "kindergarten":
Fresh off the completion of the LEGO House in Billund, Denmark, the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has embarked on a playful new school project for co-working company WeWork. Called “WeGrow,” WeWork is hoping to extend its reach into education with a pilot school near the company’s Manhattan headquarters. With an initial test class of seven students ranging from 5 to 8 years old, WeGrow wants to rapidly expand its micro-school to a class of 65 by next fall, and then to a full K-through-12 program soon after. Currently housed near the company’s Chelsea headquarters, WeGrow will join WeWork when it moves to the former Lord & Taylor building on 5th Avenue in 2019. A plan that ambitious requires a dedicated space, and BIG has revealed renderings for a WeGrow school full of soft, biomorphic forms. Pebble-shaped pillows can be stacked for adjustable seating, and swooping round reading areas are right at home among circular lighting fixtures, play areas and staircases. While BIG has tried to let in natural light by removing divider walls and creating open floors, the studio has left the underlying columns, beams and joists exposed for an industrial look. Bjarke Ingels described the design as tactile, and meant to encourage interactivity in an educational system that typically disparages experimentation. “What we’ve tried to do is undo the compartmentalization that you often find in a school environment,” said Ingels. While funding for WeGrow hasn’t been finalized, the initial plan may be to charge a market-comparable tuition on a sliding scale and potentially transition into a privately funded non-profit later on. Set to occupy its own section of the future headquarters, complete with a separate entrance, WeGrow hopes to use this first school as a jumping off point for eventually integrating a WeGrow space in every WeWork. Picturing a world where parents can head to the office with their children in tow, WeGrow is a logical next step for a company that also operates WeLive, a co-living space featuring fully furnished apartments, and Rise By We, a chain of wellness clubs. Adam Neumann, WeWork’s CEO, has stated that he eventually wants to expand into designing entire neighborhoods. WeGrow, in their own words, has claimed the ambitious goal of trying to eventually educate people “from birth to death.”
At Fuji Kindergarten, designed by Tezuka Architects, children enter an oval-shaped building with an open-air rooftop playground, with trees entering into classrooms and virtually no division between play and learning spaces, between the indoor or outdoors. On Tuesday, the firm was awarded the Moriyama RAIC International Prize for this project in a ceremony held in Toronto. The Moriyama RAIC International Prize recognizes one architect, team of architects, or architect-led collaboration for a single work of architecture that is deemed as a transformative and inspirational contribution to society, and comes with a monetary prize of $100,000. The work must embrace humanistic values of social justice, respect, equality and inclusiveness within the community. Tezuka Architects, a husband-and-wife practice based out of Tokyo, Japan have been previously recognized for their people-centered designs. The firm was chosen from a shortlist including BIG, John Wardle Architects and NADAAA, and Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects. Located in the suburbs of Tokyo, Fuji Kindergarten is a single-story oval-shaped building 183 meters in circumference, with the roof serving as a playground. Three enormous trees were incorporated into the building, soaring through the classrooms and up to the roof, encouraging children to climb, with protective nets installed to catch them. A network of staircases, slides and skylights joins the two levels, making the roof accessible and inviting. Designed for 600 students, the building encourages community and social interaction. The interior classrooms are interconnected, partitioned only with movable furniture. Noise flows freely through the school, outside to inside, challenging the norm of quiet learning spaces so common in kindergartens (a condition which often makes children nervous and uncomfortable). Throughout most of the year, all the sliding doors are open, harmonizing the outdoor and indoor, a common theme in Tezuka Architects' work.