|14 Dec 2017|
|WM Winter 2017 edition|
At the beginning of the school year, the new Early Learning Center opened its doors to AISB students ages two to six, in order to meet the demand of the growing student population.
The school was designed based on the Reggio Emilia method of design. The method is based on the educational philosophy that the environment that the students are taught in should be interactive and serene.
The outside and the inside of the school have a very modern and colorful design that is both inviting and welcoming.
The building has many large windows to provide natural light, including the main entrance, with its orange and white awning to provide shade. On the ground, there are musical chimes that students can step on as they enter the building to start their day o with interactive music.
The first thing that you see when you walk into the building is a fountain and plants. This element brings the outdoors indoors and gives a very relaxing and calming environment for the young students to learn in. This main area in the school has high glass ceilings for natural light to come in and also provides light for the plants. Behind the fountain and plants is the library. The library is an open concept so that students can easily access books.
And naturally, the ELC has a huge playground, with wooden and metallic elements as well as a giant tunnel under a hill covered with grass, and an enormous sandbox.
The ELC Principal, Mrs. Rosella Diliberto, answered some questions for The Bite, touching on the improvements that were made, as well as all the main points in the building that are truly innovative:
Q: When designing the school, what inspired the architects to make it the way it is now?
A: We had a Romanian architect design the actual building and the exterior facades. He was aiming to create a di erent sense of space, compared to our previous spaces, yet keep some communal architectural features with the rest of the campus. The interior design and furnishings were completed by a team of Italian designers who are experts in creating environments to support the developmental and pedagogical needs of infants, toddlers and early learners.
There was a lot of conversation, dialogue, sketching, and mapping out ideas with this team and our early childhood team so that we could understand the types of spaces and environment we were interested in creating for approximately 190 students.
Q: And were the colors used for a purpose? What was the reason behind the color choice?
A: The walls and furniture colors are part of a unique color concept. The interior colors were chosen intentionally and we consciously avoided the use of primary colors, both in the hard and soft furnishings opting for a gentler chromatic approach.
Q: What is di erent in the new building from the old early childhood school, and what are the improvements that have been made?
A: The space has been considered a “third teacher” and hence environments have been designed with early learners in mind, compared to the older spaces where the environments were more e ective for the needs of elementary aged students. The challenge was to design a ‘polysensorial’ environment in which functional and aesthetic choices support an image of the child that is competent, an inquirer and equipped with multiple languages. There has been great attention to lighting and the quality of the overall furnishings to foster a sense of aesthetic and beauty, where children are the protagonists. Spaces have been designed to provoke a sense of wonder, curiosity, and autonomy where students become agents of their learning within a social environment. Greater attention has been placed for parents’ involvement, for communication during children’s drop-o and pick-up times, and for family engagement and presence within the center.
Q: Are more students able to t in the new school, than the old one, and if so how many more students t?
A: Yes, we are now able to accommodate a larger number of students compared to the previous spaces allocated for our early learners. If we were to be at full capacity we could t close to 200 students.
Q: What are the main attractions in the new school?
A: We have 11 classrooms, 2 dedicated sleeping and resting areas, an open library concept amidst a Winter-garden, 3 large open collaborative spaces we are calling piazzas, a digital atelier, a music and movement room, a gym, a designated dining area and food preparation area, outdoor covered porch areas outside each of the classrooms, a generous outdoor play area, a doctor’s o ce, a separate adult collaborative space on the rst oor and a separate parking lot for the early childhood parent community.
Q: What are the students’ favorite things in the school?
A: The students seem to particularly enjoy jumping on the chimes when entering and exiting the Early Learning Center, playing on the outdoor hill with the built-in tunnel and exploring the new and varied spaces within the building, all this with their friends.
Q: What do the teachers love about the new school?
A: I believe the teachers really appreciate the entrance into the building where the open library and high ceiling Winter-garden setting is accompanied by the splashing sounds of the fountain centerpiece. If you haven’t been by yet, make sure to check out the Early Learning Center for yourself! Alumni are always welcome to drop by.
Discover the new Early Learning Center in this video: https://vimeo.com/242904652