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Wonderwoud, curiosity islands for a primary school

studio|INEKEHANS used pictograms and icons to challenge and guide children through rare libraries.

In 2011 we started conversations with a special school in the Netherlands called ‘De Windroos’ (The Compass) to design an application for their new build school.


‘De Windroos’ is a special primary school for children with concentration problems: too much (slightly autistic) or too little concentration. This ment the school had a stimulous-free policy in the classrooms. But all agreed – and in the first place the teachers – that the school should not become a sterile cocoon. The children somehow should also learn to deal with the world around them which is not always clean and clear.

Clear was however that the school was looking for a good appliances for the childrens books and libraries and that the new hallways on the ground floor (children age 4-8) and first floor (children age
8-12) were the most appropriate area to realize this.

Books.. we still love them, they trigger your imagination and being allowed to be more tempting in the hallways we decided to take up the library broader and to turn these areas to into two tempting worlds to charge illusions and creativity.



For both floors we designed a Wonderwood: kind of curiosity island.


In the first place islands with bookcases dedicated to library themes that Dutch children are familiar with: nature, friendship & love, school, adventure, sport, humor, comics, fairytales, info, history, and eeriness.
We gave all big challenging icons to make clear where to find which books. Both groups got icons that suited their age, for instance: the ADVENTURE bookcasese for the young ones can be recognised by a bike and a globe and a sailing boat for the older ones.


Secondly some of the bookcases got showcases with objects that fitted to the bookthemes and can be used in the classrooms for education.
Again items fitted for the agegroups: a NATURE themed showcase has a white dove and stuffed baby goat and many white animals for the young and anatomic models and a more scary scull for the older children.



A third ingredient was to make the bookcases interactive to be used by children and teachers on a regualar basis. The HISTORY-showcase in the groundfloor for instance holds a calender of painted selfportraits by the younger children showing each day when you enter the school who has a birthday.


For older children the INFO-showcase offers an opportunity to expose collections that they might have and exhibit ingredients a child used in a school lecture.
Last but not least both floors got CULTURE-showcases in which each class can prepare an exhibition a few times per year to rise the awareness that it is nice to pay attention to creative expressions (especially if it goes with a little openingparty and some nibbles & drinks!)


Practical issues like seats and storage for schoolbooks in closed cupboards on the outside of the islands were incorporated. To keep it ‘a bit more quiet’ the islands floors and outsides are blue and everything on the inside white. Height of cupboards, skeleton and showcases are related to hallways paneling and ceiling heigths.


Wonderwoods are set up with icons and pictograms to make the spaces playfull and attractive but also to guide children in their discoveries by associations.
Thus they succeed to be both challenging educative spots as well as great for imagination.


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