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Talking about a library, each one of us would picture it differently. As for the students of Samut Sakhon Kindergarten School and the library in the memory of Surat Pongsuphan, an architect from Greenbox Design, it’s the same. They agree that a library can’t be just a reading area, but also a space where they can have fun, exchange knowledge, or learn from role models so that all children can grow up with quality. Thus, this leads to a project to renovate an old classroom building into a learning space that encourages children to explore the underwater world in a submarine-like library set on an area of 230 square meters.
The submarine-like library is now ready to take all kids to the underwater world
Why the underwater world?
Actually, it’s quite easy to guess. It’s because the location of this school is in Samut Sakhon, which is known for its marine resources. The designer says: “As we’ve benefited from these resources, we should inculcate the youths in the area to be aware of them as much as possible. So, the design of space is telling the story of space through the theme of the sea, as a submarine, or through various toys housed within.”
The idea can’t be credited to the designer alone, as the son of the school director, who is a member of the new generation, also steps in to help work on different sections. We’ve noticed that many areas of the school are starting to get developed to meet the changing learning needs of today’s era. What’s important is, each zone is assigned to a different design studio so that the entire school can reach an effective improvement.
“We’ve learned information from the director’s side. It’s pretty clear how the library here has been used by the kids. So, we draft out timelines. The library needs to accommodate thirty children at a time, who come to learn and play. There are book return points, book search counter, movie theater, and exhibition or project meeting zone. As you can see, the way it is used is completely different from the old days. A library is no longer a quiet reading room.”
When multiple zones are combined to form an interior space design, the designer then needs to prioritize the functions of each area by placing those that hold active activities at the front while the passive zones go to the back so that the layout of the building can be fully optimized. The front area is adjacent to the main building corridor, through which children walk after school, during the end of the day, as well as during their lunch break.
The front zone is designed to be like a reception area, which is divided into book borrowing-returning point, small stand zone in steps for relaxation, or even for classroom presentation. This zone features itself in white tones, which make the area look brighter. Next to the core of the space are floor-to-ceiling bookcases divided into three sub-rooms based on the concept of ‘Coast, Shallow Sea and Deep Sea’. Each area differs by the use of colorful tones, including creamy yellow, blue and dark blue.
(Creamy yellow for the coast)
(Blue for the shallow sea)
(Dark blue for the deep sea)
The reading space is more like an amusement park than a library.
Architects also has a sense of humor. He says that his childhood library is a place where he can sit at a hidden corner just like a normal (naughty) kid. For the design of each reading room, some of the original floor plans are removed. The designer lowers the space and puts stairs, forming holes in the floor to shape a space where children can have fun. There are also corners that make reading even more exciting that other normal libraries. However, at the same time, all areas need to be taken care of thoroughly to make sure that all kids are safe. Thus, the layout features a loop style with no dead end at all.
On one side of the plan is a research and small group reading area where the students can write on the wall like a whiteboard. Also, the space has been enhanced to make sure children can get together, talk, and read books just as they want to. For the last zone, what’s placed here are just long tables for group work. Moreover, there are also a few private reading spaces for those students who need to concentrate at times.
The subtleties of the design are also added to enhance the fun atmosphere for kids, as well as reinforcing the submarine theme. For example, the Talking Pipe, which is adapted from common PVC pipes we often see. From here, children can speak at the end of the pipe and the sound will go to the other end, which is hidden in another room. It’s an idea that encourages children to play and have fun.
A space where resources awareness is key
In addition to the dedicated design and layout of the concepts and functions, another interesting idea is how we can raise resource awareness as well. With this in mind, the architect puts his efforts to encourage plastic waste segregation for recycling and upcycle. He puts gimmick separation bins where children can dispose of plastic waste in exchange for snacks. Moreover, he reuses waste materials, turning them into furniture such as chair tops made from plastic waste. There are old plastic crates obtained from the neighborhood to keep children’s toys organized as well.
“School design is something we’ve always wished for, because kids are users that we can raise so much awareness. How do we want them to be? We can design something to promote them. Another point is, this is a government kindergarten. So, I feel that providing a good standard for a government school may bring more awareness. The design can ensure that children will learn things more effectively.” The architect says.
Location : Anubarn Samutsakorn School
Interior Designer : Greenbox Design
Contractor : Kaokarnchang
Photographer : Tanatip Chawang