Creative design studio specialising in architecture, product and environments.
 

Rethinking early-years learning environments for children in urban areas.

 
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Case Study: N is for Nursery

 

N is for Nursery are revolutionising early-years education for children living in urban areas. We are working as their design partner, helping them roll-out new schools across multiple sites in London.

 
 

Context

N is for Nursery are a start up who set out to rethink the standard for early-years education. With a teaching philosophy that celebrates learning through open play,  a unique forrest school programme, and a family club programme of activities put on for parents as well as children, they are finding ways to innovate and add value from the standard Nursery school model.

Following the successful launch of their first site, N is for Nursery approached Kennedy Woods to help with the challenge of establishing a network of schools across North East London. 


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Challenge

We were tasked with two key challenges:

To establish a design language and set of principles that would bring brand consistency, and allow easy roll out across multiple sites, while adapting to the unique constraints and opportunities of each?

To design spaces that could 'flip' between different uses - for example a classroom in the day, and exercise studio at night - without watering down their character and specificity.


Insight

In order to understand the client's business and find opportunities for innovation in these areas, we started the project with a thorough design research stage. 

Activities such as interviews with parents and staff, co-design workshops with the educators, and an immersion day at the school gave us a broad range of insights that went on to underpin the design principles and code for subsequent sites.


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Proposals

Behavioural insights led much of the detailed design proposals. 

These varied from small details - for example: discovering that younger children were more disrupted by the door than other age groups pushed us to include a lobby area to each classroom to screen the entrance and reduce stress for children - to guiding principles. For example: Pairing large flexible open spaces, with ‘pocket’ spaces tailored to specific activities, such as the art room shown above, in order to meet both the ‘child-led’ learning criteria and the need to flip the main spaces to different uses in the evenings.

The design philosophy, was to ensure every element, from lighting, layouts, to joinery, was working as a cohesive whole, while drawing its character from the specific activities of the school. The circular library shown below, for example, was developed to provide a focal point for the daily ‘circle-time’ activity, where educators and children sit around and sing songs and play games at the start of the day.

Plans of the first site in London fields, due to open in 2019.


Watch this Space.

The above projects are live. Check back for updates as work progresses.

Next case study: Establishing a new model for sustainable, community-focused development