As a parent in the architectural industry, one visualises buildings in a unique manner. Whether it’s the dire need for a changing room on the go, a play area that fits the requirements of a toddler, the presence of services in your neighborhood that are universal and easily accessible for parents and their children. Furthermore, responding to the built environment through the lens of motherhood is a unique experience. Spaces that follow a certain style are deeply felt by the parents who ultimately use them. The architectural response given by architects and designers as a potential solution to the parent’s needs involves plenty of imaginative play where pushing unconventional ideas is the way to go.
Types of Spaces
One of the most frequently used spaces by parents and children alike are play areas. Whether these spaces are outdoors or indoors, these areas act as an outlet for children and toddlers to exhaust their unending energy. The architectural design behind such spaces needs to be universally inclusive for children of all abilities, be easily accessible, inviting and, most importantly, provide safety.
Play areas for children
Play areas need to be spaces that are designed in a manner where children and parents alike are naturally inclined to use. Through the lens of motherhood, the importance of accessible spaces is inevitable. How easy will it be for them to reach the play area, unfold a stroller and then gather up their child/children before utilizing or leaving the space? Ample parking spaces, seating for adults, necessary signage, and water stations need to be provided. Another important aspect would be parent rooms as spaces of respite for the families. Parent rooms can also be used to change and nurse small children as well.
Catering to children of all abilities
Another aspect that parents pay attention to is the extent to which such play areas consider the needs of children with different abilities. This can include both mental and physical constraints that may differ per child. Having an area that focuses on intersections of spaces that do not segregate such children from able-bodied ones is another aspect that should be considered. A rock-climbing wall that has different levels of difficulty for different users can be given. Cubby houses and sandpits for younger children can also be provided as a universal space for children of all abilities.
Spatial layout and zoning
Having a natural ‘flow’ of space in such areas helps mothers to navigate with their children better. In play areas, having this organic flow in spatial zoning will not only help the parents to navigate better and keep an eye on their children whilst socializing themselves, but will avoid traffic jams in the play area and help children explore the area better. As architects and designers, providing direct entrances that connect to the play areas with less diversions enhance the free flow of space as well.
Apart from play areas, parents need to be able to enjoy public infrastructure with their children without any apprehension as well. Having pathways with enough space to walk with their children while using strollers is something urban planners need to consider while designing streets, pathways and parks. Having user-friendly options for parents while going on hiking tracks such as public restrooms with facilities for children can also be provided.
The lens of motherhood scrutinizes architectural spaces from all angles and perspectives. It is interesting to note that parents would like to target spaces that spark the creative side of their children. Naturally, some parents would like to take their children to spaces that are well-lit, colorful and incorporate a variety of materiality in their design. Such spaces also promote the creative side of children, an important developmental tool in their child’s overall progress. Another obvious preference for parents would be the incorporation of nature in such spaces where designers work with nature and not against it. Not only does direct contact with nature provide parents and children with an odd sense of calm that perhaps they cannot attain in their otherwise busy lives, but it gives the architectural response a more relatable feel.
Motherhood, although associated with tasks that one may not correlate with something as professional as architecture, its presence cannot be overlooked in this department. Mothers are one of the core users of architectural spaces and their response to such spaces is of utmost importance. This response needs to be a part of the design solution which architects, urban planners, landscape designers, or even interior designers can provide and tailor for their needs.