The School of Built Environment and Development studies invites you to the seminar: ARCHITECTURE AND CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT: Towards establishing architectural design guidelines for the built environment designed for children in South Africa.

Speaker: Magda Cloete
Venue: Seminar Room 808, Denis Shepstone Building, Level 8
Date: Wednesday 3rd May 2017
Time: 13h00 – 14h00

The research in terms of Architecture and Childhood Development is based on an understanding that Architecture serves society and has the potential to impact positively on children. The research is grounded in a postmodern theoretical enquiry, and the primary purpose of architecture is established as the process of creating places for people to dwell.

The concern with childhood development and more specifically Early Childhood Development relates to the universally recognised potential of changing society through early intervention and provision of quality childhood development. The research relates to the principles of The UN Convention of The Rights of The Child, and aims to initiate the transformation of the architectural design of spaces for children, to achieve a positive impact on childhood development for children in South Africa.

The research problem is defined in terms of the concept of the built environment and how it impacts on childhood development, seldom considered in the provision of Early Childhood Development in South Africa. The key question is: How can architectural design provide nurturing and stimulating environments that influence the care, education and development of children between the ages of 0-6 in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa?

The research methodology includes a literature review, policy analysis and collective case study. The literature review examines the theoretical framework of phenomenology and perceptual theory, as well as concepts of place making, dwelling, child development theories, and educational studies relating to children’s spaces. The key concepts of Responsiveness, the Third Teacher and Community are established. The methodology of The Pattern Language and design guidelines from the UK and Australia are investigated to assist the understanding of these concepts translated into architecture.

The policy analysis reviews the Rights of The Child, as well as ECD implementation both universally and in South Africa. The case study highlights the methods of translating the theoretical concepts of Responsiveness, Third Teacher and Community within the Kwa-Zulu Natal context as implemented by architects. The research concludes with a framework for the design guideline for children’s environments in South Africa.

Magda Cloete completed her Masters in Architecture in 2016 by research, building on the practice experiences in the educational sector in England where she was able to research the potential of developing Quality environments for Children in South Africa. She writes:

‘In architecture I aim to create places for people. I have always been aware of the tremendous effect our environment has on who we are. As an architect I am in a position to enhance the experience of people in their day-to-day activities. Working at an educational consultancy provided the opportunity of assessing other architects’ designs and seeing how easily the real users are not fully considered and providing advice to better these situations. This builds on the research of my thesis dissertation, which focussed on using the architectural environment as part of the healing process for the mentally ill. My experience in the commercial field was extremely valuable in understanding the complexities of creating buildings with architectural value. As an academic architect my focus has been on the relationship between theory and practice and developing a research based design methodology.

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