This Learning Center in Istanbul by Stüdyo AB Encourages Play and Curiosity
When tasked with an indoor playground and learning center situated on the second floor of a bustling shopping mall, architect Asli Baysan Birgen drew inspiration from the motto of her client, Cocoon Istanbul: “playful learning.” “We aimed to promote curiosity and let kids use their imagination,” says Baysan Birgen, whose Stüdyo AB, the Turkish studio she founded in 2015, won this category for projects by firms with five or fewer employees. “Our work had to address developmental needs of various age groups as well as ensure their safety,” she adds. Cocoon’s 20,000-square-foot, semi-open floor plan accommodates a panoply of tactile, age-appropriate activity zones for infants, toddlers, and preteens, as well as a café and a bookstore for their parents.
Eschewing the bright tones and plastic accessories commonly associated with children’s spaces, Baysan Birgen gravitated toward a gentle palette: Walls, arches, and seating areas are swathed in soft pastel fabrics, accentuated by bleached beech paneling and beams. She worked closely with local contractors to design and produce child-size furniture and fixtures, including the custom Corian sinks in the restroom.
One of many bespoke features, a curvilinear playhouse without walls or a roof, inspires children to use it as a cave, reading nook, or balcony. Above, daylight filters through dreamy wallpaper, evocative of Ebru, a traditional Turkish marbling art, and inspired by Cocoon’s branding. “We did our best to give kids their first taste of design,” Baysan Birgen concludes, “and trigger their appetite for aesthetics.”
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