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How fun would it be if the house in the tale was no longer just a fantasy world?
With the intention to get children accustomed to natural spaces and spend quality time with family members of all ages, the owners intend to establish a playground for children to play and learn while providing a café for the family to stop by for meal and spend time together. Prow, as a mother, the architect of NITAPROW, and one of the owner partners of Little Stove & Little Stump, hence, intends to make the new café and children’s play area in Rama 2 area a family friendly place that includes a café and a learning and playground for children. The design of the building was coupled with the creation of a new tale called ‘The Stump House with the Repairman’ which sparked children’s imagination allowing them to experience the fantasy world in a real place.
“We don’t want to make a place full of toys for children, but we do want to make a place for children to explore, learn, and play with their parents or family, because we want everyone to feel relaxed. As a result, the challenge began in the play area and progressed to the café zone. Parents will come with friends to unwind, sip coffee, and enjoy snacks, not just to wait for their children, but also to play with them and get rid of their weariness.”
From a long rectangular vacant land that has one side connected to Rama II 33 Road and the other side connected to the Bangmod Canal, which has a large sprawling banyan tree as the highlight of the area, the architect decided to place the window side of the café zone facing the north side, which receives the least heat from sunlight, and is close to the banyan tree so that the trees and the canal become a view and create a shaded area to create a relaxing atmosphere for visitors while the children’s play area is placed in the middle of the land to be at a distance from the canal for the safety of the children.
The curved shape forms are derived from the area’s original name,
‘Romsai + Wat Yai Rom,’ resulted in this inverted curved café
The alley in which this project is located is known as ‘Soi Wat Yai Rom’ by the locals. This is compounded by the fact that the banyan tree is a defining feature of the landscape. The first two phrases that come to mind for the architect are ‘rom sai +wat yai rom,’ which eventually became the architectural form that employs the arched shape like an umbrella to provide shade for guests. The café area, for example, is constructed with a curving canopy similar to a long umbrella and a relatively deep awning, making it an umbrella that may provide shade from the sun and rain for people who use the space, and the same curved form extends into the vaulted ceiling of the interior seating area as well.
The café functionality is quite simple, with the main section of the café or kitchen planned behind the fence and then extended from the kitchen to a bar counter with a panoramic view. Next is the customer’s seating area where the outside garden can be seen in all directions. In addition, there is a spacious outdoor seating zone where customers may take full advantage of the canal, banyan trees, and greenery. There is also a skylight element or the arch-shaped void that provides natural light to the interior area.
Architectural design coupled with storybook
design inspired from stump houses in children’s tales.
The Little Stump Playground was inspired by the shape of a stump with a hollow in the middle or court in the middle where the tree grows. ‘Stumps’ represent an imperfect nature, while the trees that grow at the core of the tree signify an emerging growth. Curves that resemble cones or tree roots, as well as window shapes that look like hollows feature rounded lines, some of which look like children’s hand drawn lines.
The structure is unique in that it is structurally constructed alongside storybook design, with the goal of allowing children to experience actual book settings through tangible architecture.
“When I designed this project, my eldest daughter was about 2 years old. She enjoyed listening to storybooks, and can recall exactly what the characters did, where it occured, and what those characters were like. So, I thought it would be amazing if there was a parallel universe where children know there is a place from the storybook they read and could experience the space. When I came up with this idea, I looked for a children’s storybook creator until I met the Alphabet Publishing House, and a children’s storyteller from Littleblackoz Studio who both draw and write storylines.
However, we do not expect everything in fairy tales to be precisely the same as architecture. So we discussed with the writers from the beginning that the fairy tale, for example, the cave and the stump, might be more fantasized. Still, we kept the structure’s proportions in a fairy tale manner, with storytellers developing the architectural style from the one the architect had previously designed.”
The story is completed with the title ‘The Stump house with the repairman,’ which features trees at the center of the structure. This resulted in the creation of a tree court with other places surrounded by a sphere form, in which children portray animal characters from the tale. The building’s shape and floor plan are based on the tree ring, and the curving contour in the layout mimics a stump. The stump house awaiting restoration also alludes to the regeneration of the tree in the stump house.
The interior function design differs from the café zone but continues to emphasize the importance of experiencing as many outside natural spaces as possible. The playground area is divided into many rooms, allowing children to wander in and out while playing outside. Starting at the entrance, we will find a reception area with a view of the central court and two other rooms: one is a workshop room for art classes or children’s classes, and the other is a playroom designed with various space frames that resemble an animal tunnel, bird nest, or pond, for children to foster their imagination while having fun by ducking up and down and climbing.
“The building’s space is designed to have an interior space that connects to the outside and all areas, both physical and visual, because I want the children to be able to see, create curiosity and observation, and be interested in activities that take place in other areas, as well as allow parents and staff to see the children thoroughly.”
In addition to the curving shape of the structure, the architect used an organic form to create the openings in the façade of the building, giving it a deformed shape similar to that seen in nature, such as a hollow of wood. “A child’s imaginary world, or even when he draws, he draws windows of animals or whatever, it often has asymmetrical, inaccurate shapes that we all feel like we can relate to because we’ve all painted in childhood before. As a result, I used that as inspiration to create voids of different forms and sizes.”
Natural intimate materials and second-hand furniture
The main material used in the exterior of the building from the café, walkway, bathroom and playground are spray paint, polished stone flooring, and the sand wash.
The playground, where children closely interact with, has natural materials such as wood inserted into the floor of the workshop and the playroom. “I wanted to harmonize the furniture combination. So, I tried to use wooden color scheme. Also, as in the tale ‘The Repairman’s Companion’ where the animals came to fix the stumps and bear caves, almost every piece of furniture I used are second-hand items to extend the life of the item as long as possible.”
“Young children can fall or and be injured at any time. So, safety is our top priority. However, the second factor, which seems to be contradictory to the first , is that their injuries will be a learning experience. So I didn’t want to create an overly guarded environment. I really want kids to have experiences with nature where they have to learn to be cautious, for example, they could fall off if these stairs if they don’t watch out. These are two things that I keep in mind all the time in design, because I don’t want to create a world where they can’t be harmed.
We have space to play freely from sand pits, grass hills, small canals, tunnels stumps for balance training, swings, multi-sensory walkways, allowing them to walk and run barefoot among nature, and a variety of surfaces such as gravel, rocks, soil, sand, and water allow them to practice different sensory senses. Here, I want children to spend time with their parents while interacting with the nature around them.” the architect concluded.