Spring 2021
Third Year Architecture Studio | Professor: Azadeh Sawyer and Stefani Danes
In the design of a Reggio-Emilia inspired early education center there exists fundamental design concerns that are inextricable from the function and philosophy of the space. The design of the Center for Creative Exploration is deeply inspired by the fundamental Reggio-Emilia philosophy which considers the environment to be the third teacher and asserts that learning spaces should be a canvas for exploration and curiosity while also becoming a second home for the children, teachers, and parents of the center
Through balancing comfort and excitement, the Center for Creative Discovery creates a safe environment for children to feel at ease in their learning.
Transparency and visual connection can promote prosocial development, curiosity, and a sense of connection to the community. 
“The Italian educators of Reggio use the term transparency to describe design elements that allow people to see through any barriers, making visible what is valued, what has happened, and what is underway to make connections on many levels.”
The atrium provides an open space in which children are free to run, play, and socialize outside of their sanctuaries which becomes specifically important when outdoor spaces cannot be used.
The redesign of the atrium based on lighting conditions and thermal performance promotes a physical and emotional feeling of comfort and calmness throughout the center.
Interactions with the community provides opportunities for children to learn and grow. 
“The arrangements and provisions in the physical environment create the context for the social-emotional climate and the quality of interactions among the people there.”
Vibrancy and engagement provide opportunities for children to grow but over-stimulation can disrupt learning. 
“Being in loud, large group environments can add to a child’s stress, sense of invis­ibility, and difficulty concentrating. Our environments need to provide restful places to gather emotional as well as physical replenishment."
The sanctuary is a space of comfort and protection as a second home for the children. 
The organization of the sanctuaries develops gradients relationships between private and communal space.
“The entry and hallways in early childhood spaces can become community gathering places that have the feel of a living room or neighborhood park.”
The rooftop garden is a space of adventure, curiosity, and finding new perspectives. 
Children, “are especially drawn to the opportunities that the natural world provides to use all of their senses; create adventures; and explore, transform, and invent.”
The Center for Creative Discovery encourages engagement with the wider community through the entry garden. 
“A welcoming entryway slows down the drop-off and pick-up routines in this program, encouraging family members to linger with their children, have a conversation with a teacher, or con­nect with another parent.”

Quotes from Design for Living and Learning