São Paulo, Brazil
by Isabel Duprat
To think of a place for children ranging from one to four years of age set me on a trip back to the past, filled with fantasies and memories of my early years. Just when I was three years-old, my dad decided to take us from São Paulo to Araras, in the countryside, to live a more tranquil life, which did not last long but was unforgettable. Then, there came a day I decided to follow my sister, who was going to school. I stole away and, inside that small being, crossed streets on my own and kept walking with that feeling of also making it to school. I was both successful and thoroughly reprimanded for my thoughtless escape at the world's mercy.
This project was an amusing childhood adventure, trying to imagine what would stimulate these children, fourty-nine years after my naughty escapade. Thus, I have delved into this multicolored world, dreaming of devising a small universe.
Aflalo & Gasperini's architectural project was already at an advanced stage when my participation started. The free-space areas designated for the garden were small. Nevertheless, there was a 1200-square-meter covered area with plenty of natural light that had only the function of circulation and access to the classrooms, apart from a few rectangular flower beds dividing the passageways.
The landscaping project incorporated this large area as an extension of the outdoor areas, significantly increasing the play space. Bringing nature to the centerstage, I designed a blue granilite river winding through the vegetation on its banks. One gets to the classrooms as if by small bridges. I also devised wooden benches in accordance to the curvaceous shape of the water path which propitiates many spots to be at the bank of the "river".
Brazilian Indian drawings inspired me to inhabit water, land and air with images of animals from the Brazilian fauna, done in Vidrotil mosaics. Each group went to its related habitat. Caiman, monkey, river dolphin and turtle, instead of bear, elephant and giraffe. Nothing against them, I just wanted to draw attention to our own fauna. Each classroom has an open patio with an animal that identifies it. With the course of time, each classroom took an animal as its own, which ended up being placed above the doorway. It was not part of the plan but I assume the animals were quite a big hit among the kids.
Still in the covered area, a huge chessboard was drawn to provide support to the children's games.
In the external area adjacent to this space, the water now appears live and in full color. The floor extends itself until it turns into a little beach that licks a quite shallow pool with multicolored stripes. A red ball transforms itself into a fountain and a square on the ground pours various waterjets when you walk over it.
An islet connected to the continent through a little rustic bridge has a mosaic panel drawing a sunny day as a backdrop.
I created a playground with organically-shaped pieces on blue sand, which I found somewhat odd, but it was a requisite unanimously approved by the children. To double check, I asked my nieces if it was actually cool and they confirmed it was. And so it was.
With the shapes, colors and meanings, I set myself to the task of gently introducing facets of nature to the children’s universe. My biggest desire is that the project has contributed to encouraging the perception and experimentation of sensations translated in a playful manner.
Intervention area 1200 m²
Project and execution 2004 a 2006