family life · Singapore

Design for children

In university, I watched with great interest as my flat mate and neighbor went through tubes of UHU and other materials, creating trees and even people, and put together their architecture models for presentations. It was then that I first picked up Wallpaper magazine and was enthralled by Scandinavian design. Fast forward a few years, and I ended up dabbling in a little of retail marketing, although there is/was so much more in that area I would have liked to go into.

I recently came across The Architecture of Early Childhood blog, in particular this page which looks at walls, floors, and roofs as areas of play.

It also has a Pinterest link to children’s architecture – a whole collection of photos of amazing design for children -I think what’s fascinating about design for children is that there is a child in each of us, and whenever we see children playing and engaging happily, we can’t help but feel a sense of happiness ourselves.

But looking at the inspiring designs, it’s obvious that Singapore has a long way to go. Sure, some malls might say try hard with sinks that are children’s heights, but then put in a regular size wash basin, which might be too big for a child to reach over or position the soap so that they still need an adult to assist. If I’d had space (and my way, or perhaps if I had known there was going to be three of them!), I would have certainly loved to tailor much more of our home for the convenience of the kids.

I’m not saying the entire country needs to look like a Montessori classroom, but why is it hard for us to be more child-led in our design? Is it because inspiring fittings and architecture costs more, and being as economically driven as Singapore is, would cut into our profits? Surely it can’t be that we lack the architectural and design talent, or are restricted by the URA regulations. Or is it just that our society and culture is just not family-focussed and family-driven enough? Do we expect them to grow up quickly and just adapt to the adult world and are disappointed when they make mistakes or a mess? I mean, we can’t even hold an art festival for children without restricting them, perhaps it’s asking too much for us to be more child-friendly?

What I do know is that in our estates we each do have a chance to effect a change for the better – if you think your estate could say, have more sheltered areas or ramps or the like for the convenience of everyone, including our children, the authorities are listening (to reasonable requests). Write to them and/or your MP and take pride when you see it happen. Making the needs of our children known will help build a more family-friendly society. I like to think that one of the ramps from my estate to the local NTUC was spurred by my writing to the authorities (the town council, URA, LTA, and MP, just to make sure I had everyone covered). Even if it wasn’t, I’m just glad it’s there now 🙂 And while I guess truly inspiring design and architecture for children will still be hard to come by in Singapore for many years to come, every little bit that we do for them now, counts.

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