FRAME Challenge: Post-pandemic Schooling

PlayDayz




We were approached by Frame magazine and invited to take part in the Frame Lab Challenge for issue 137 (Nov-Dec 2020). The theme “post-pandemic schooling” asked us to respond to the question of how education settings might develop in the future to allow children to continue learning in a way that meets both social and safety needs. We chose to focus on younger school aged children and expand on the UK government’s advice to group children into “bubbles”, testing the limits of this concept by encouraging contactless play between the different groups. 

Manifesto: Do you remember how long a year was when you were 7? Six weeks of summer holidays stretched into forever, it seemed. And when that forever came to an end, we packed our new school bags with our old favourite sandwiches and headed back to school, excited to see all the friends we had missed. This september will be very different. While children must be kept safe from the ongoing pandemic, they must not miss out on their education, friendships, discoveries or play. We want to find ways to keep school fun, and replace anxiety with adventure. WE DEMAND PLAYTIME!

References: We took inspiration from the work of Aldo Van Ayck, and Charles Forberg’s Cypress Hill Playgrounds, asking ourselves how can these approaches could be adapted to help with distancing measures during the Covid-19 pandemic. The simple shapes in their work can be reinterpreted as easy to clean surfaces, and we were interested in how the space between walls becomes a place of play and discovery. We also considered how designers such as Sanaa, RO/LU, IOU Theatre and AAm Architects have previously engaged people with sensory manipulation, tricks and games to make their work engaging.

Proposal: PlayDaze proposes weaving together multiple play areas into a labyrinth of corridors, tunnels, bridges and open classrooms. Children can explore the area specific to their own bubble, but also interact with friends in other bubbles through contactless play, developing skills for collaboration and team work as well as non-verbal communication. The playground becomes the entrance to the classroom as the window is repurposed as a door, accessible by steps and slide. The playful walls extend into the classroom dividing a class of up to 30 into two “bubbles” of 15 or fewer. The use of central circulation space is significantly reduced, keeping children within their bubbles but still allowing them to play with others without contact.

The final proposal and interview are available in print and at Frameweb.com