“The space is intentionally flexible and very open-ended because it’s begging
for students to ask questions and find the answers for themselves,” he said.
“It helps students by getting out of their way, while also forcing them to stumble
upon unique experiences. It’s not over-determined like a room that has all the
Occupying a loft building, the center offers two kinds of spaces—one for
independent discovery and the other for interactive learning. The first features
an interlocking blackboard question wall, a corrugated orange container
for guessing what’s inside, and tall windows for seeing what’s outside. The
second comprises a laboratory pavilion with glazed garage doors that unlock
the space. It also includes plywood-clad writable walls and suspended felt
acoustic baffles, upon which pulleys, Coke and Mentos rockets, and home-
made catapults can be hung.
“The plywood with writable paint is an interesting material. Whiteboards
and blackboards are everywhere now, but it’s really neat to allow students to
literally draw on the walls here, because they can’t at home,” Tinucci said.
“And with plywood, it’s not damaged like drywall if kids screw something
onto it or throw something against it.”
But around the corner is where students really let loose. The Accelerator
Space is an elongated room where they can run, play, and experiment. “The
spaces help kids discover their creativity,” said Tinucci. “We let the architecture
become a primary protagonist in that story. It’s not just the shell of our
environment. It’s a character. It’s a player.”
Woodhouse Tinucci Architects designed the space in conjunction with
Kids Science Labs staff, which is a primary reason it’s been such a success.
“The proprietors came to us before they even had teachers yet, so we were
working with them from the outset. We designed this hand in hand,” Tinucci
explained. “We told them the space would be successful if it was incorporated
into their curriculum. And it has been.”
Although inspired by past philosophies, the Kids Science Labs aims to be
a pioneer in education and design.
“Those historic approaches value independence and interaction, but that’s not
what education has become, which is actually this ugly, efficient focus on test-taking,” Tinucci said. “Here architecture is playing a role in the educational process
that it probably always should have played, and hopefully will in the future.”
54 INTERIORS & SOURCES JULY 2015 interiorsandsources.com
Kids Science Labs
See additional photography from this project in our digital
edition at interiorsandsources.com.
LEFT + RIGHT Expansive glass doors foster a sense of openness while also offering
intimate learning space. Open areas are used for interactive experiments.
LEFT TO RIGHT The material palette
is natural and durable. It includes
maple veneer plywood, common brick,
concrete, glass, cork, and painted