A playground in the West Garden residential complex is a pilot project where we applied the neurodynamic methodology to the kid’s spaces design.
Children in modern cities have an acute deficit of free movements, which develop the brain’s ability to process information from all the senses and, thus, perceive the world around in a complex way. The main value of a playground for a child is the palette of sensations and movements that he can feel there. By choosing various activities in the play area, children make up for the deficit of the sensorimotor experience, which helps to grow brain activity.
Status: Implementation (in progress)
Project team: Bureau partners: Alexandra Chertkova, Anna Rodionova, Anastasia Rychkova, Bella Filatova
Lead Architect: Alexandra Zyuzina
Architects: Olga Paramonova, Diana Filippovich
Anna Mayorova, Daria Pilipak
Architectural supervision: Anna Gerasimova, Olga Paramonova
Master plan: Maria Mironenko
Lighting: Cultura Sveta
Spontaneous activities and communication on playgrounds, designed using the neurodynamic approach, are universal tools for the child’s brain development. Neurophysiologists have ensured that free motor activity is beneficial to everyone and not only for children with delayed speech development.
The essence of the technique is that the playground is not only a space for games and a meeting place but also an accessible simulator for the development of the child brain, an indispensable tool for the development of the vestibular system, visual and auditory perception, attention, memory, and part of a well-formed environment.
The global goal of the project is to spread the experience of meaningful design of playgrounds throughout the city and make these techniques and algorithms available to everyone.
We considered all areas of the West Garden residential complex as a system of the organism, so we chose the name «Superorganisms». By definition, «a superorganism is an organism composed of many organisms. Usually, it is a social unit where there is a division of labor based on the specialization of individuals, and where individual organisms are not able to survive» (Wikipedia). Social organisms live in colonies, taking care of a common neighborhood. Sometimes the body and the house are indivisible substances.
We have designed three sites with different functional areas. The playground’s equipment was thought out together with specialists in psychophysiology. So, we were able to make conditions for stimulation of the vestibular system, proprioception, dexterity, coordination, balance and strength training, communication, and creativity.
We have developed three platforms:
- The “Dialogue” playground consists of two zones: babies aged 0-3 years and children 4-7 years old.
For babies, interaction with a parent is important. So, the equipment in this part contributes to such communication. The “You and Me” swing allows a child to swing with a parent or older friend. The play counter in the bark is suitable for role play with the parents and develops the child’s sensory skills.
Central Hill is a real simulator for kids. Climbing a gentle hillside holding on to railings, crawling through a tunnel, and over uneven ground to reach game boards and colored windows: all these activities help to train skills of movement and overcoming gravity.
The equipment in the playground for older children is arranged in such a way that the child learns to interact with others. A nest swing, for example, makes it possible to swing in the company of several people. The house is the perfect place to chat with a friend. A speaking tube is useful only with an interlocutor.
The disposition of play equipment gives children a choice of route. They can go through an obstacle course and crawl in a secret tunnel or climb a hill on a rope, tell a friend a secret using a speaking tube and overcome a mesh tunnel, go down a spiral hill, then climb another one with the help of logs and slide down a straight hill. During the game, the child learns to interact with other children, negotiate and play role-playing or active games according to the rules.
- The “Creativity” playground is intended for children from 0 to 6 years old. Here, a child can express himself differently by interacting with busy boards, constructing cities and drawing on panels, or imagining himself as a confectioner in a sandbox. All these actions stimulate the development of the imagination and force the brain to look for non-standard solutions.
The route of movement around the playground is designed in such a way to stimulate different skills during the game: auditory-motor coordination when playing drums, tactile system when playing in the sand, coordination of hand motor skills, and eye movements when drawing on different types of panels.
The playground involves various physical activities: the swing trains the vestibular and proprioceptive systems responsible for feeling your own body and controlling it. Running on acoustic pillows, the child automatically pays attention to the sound, and the brain starts the mechanism for developing a sense of time, which is necessary for speech, reading, writing, and organizing movements in the child. One of the playground’s main features, the roller coaster, provides the deep tactile stimulation needed to recognize the body’s boundaries.
- The “Discovery” playground is designed for children from 4 to 7 years old. At this age, children begin to explore the world around them. The equipment in the playground helps the process.
A swing pendulum, a climbing complex, and a swing balancer are installed there to strengthen the vestibular apparatus and stimulate children’s activity and communication. Moving around the playground, the child discovers new elements for exploring the world. By experimenting with sound in the echo tube, the child trains the connection between hearing and voice necessary for speech development. It is also training for communication skills because it is possible to play only in two. The kaleidoscope stimulates the child’s visual system. An optokinetic reflex where the body remains still and the eyes hop around gives great pre-writing practice. You can follow a friend through a telescope – eye tracking a moving object – train the ability to control the movements of the eyeballs while reading.
A long trampoline provides vertical acceleration to train the otolithic apparatus, and with age, it helps the child to master reading, writing, and mathematics. Filling the platform allows us to find a balance between active and calm contemplative play.
In the Superorganisms project, we used natural materials. Unique small architectural forms were developed with the participation of a neuropsychologist. Moving between playgrounds, the child covers various needs: active play or creativity, role-playing with a friend or parent, or single play. The entire West Garden complex is like one superorganism, where the specialization of each area produces benefits for integrated development of the child.