At Malvern College Pre-School Hong Kong, we are inspired by the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy which views the ‘environment as the third teacher’, playing a complementing and supporting role to the UK Early Years Foundation Stage play-based academic and holistic curriculum.
The design of interior spaces of the school is centred around the theme of natural learning environment. By bringing in natural elements, for example, plants, sand, water and sunlight into the interior, the ‘school’ is no longer a traditional classroom-based learning space, but a unique and stimulating environment which promotes multi-sensory experiences. This not only offers children endless possibilities to explore by their own initiatives and interests, but also to learn through these learner-oriented journeys.
The open classroom spatial configuration, coupled with organic curvilinear shapes, helps foster dynamic learning within and across classrooms. Organised around a central indoor play area, classrooms act as home bases while different learning focal points in between them provide informal learning areas. Classrooms are no longer defined by walls but learning actually happens everywhere. As such, the school offers children a variety and an abundance of possibilities to encourage many types of play and learning experiences. To balance the open plan with volume control, sound absorptive materials are used in the ceiling, flooring and other surfaces to dampen sounds. Two flexible partitions seal off separate spaces for noisier activities such as music classes, while maintaining the integrity of open-plan layout.
The interior design of the Pre-School takes on a flexible and inspiring learning space, creating an imaginative learning area where children are free to explore and develop their potential in a safe and home-like environment.
On top of being a learning space where children acquire knowledge, the school is a playground with boundless opportunities for children to learn about themselves, others and to experience community life for the first time. By incorporating natural elements and open-ended play equipment tailored for different age groups: for example, Wood Hut, Sand Pit and hard and soft surfaces, we have created an inspiring environment that invites children to crawl, roll, climb and run – to learn about their five senses independently, as well as in a group.
The Play Hut is a flexible learning space with a focus on learning through dramatic play. Its open-ended design means that it can easily be transformed into different dramatic play focus areas: such as a kitchen/ restaurant; home area, flower shop; post office, hospital/ health centre; travel agent/ pet shop/ vet clinic. On top of the Play Hut is a Reading Loft that promotes a love of literacy and reading as it is a welcoming spot filled with child-sized soft furniture and lamps, creating a cosy and inviting space to read.
The Sand Pit enables experimental wet and dry play, designed to develop children’s social, physical and creative / aesthetics skills, as well as early experiences in maths and science.