Designing for Children – Space

Children are our future and we should be doing all we can to give them the best possible environment to grow. Alongside nutrition and education, a child’s environment also plays an important role in their development. Over the years many architects have studied ways to create more child friendly environments, this is a small compilation of the many that have been formed.

Space is the immediate environment surrounding us that we observe with our senses. The quality of a space affects the inhabitants physically and can produce effects psychologically. It is therefore important to make the best choices when designing a space, even more so when it concerns the development of children. The following are some known ways to design better child centric spaces.

Ceiling Height

Children are as sensitive to space just like adults are. The size of furniture, ceiling heights and floor levels can influence how a child behaves in a space. One of the more important things to consider is the ceiling height. The height of a ceiling is  shown to have direct relation to cooperation between children. As the height of the ceiling was lowered the children showed better cooperation between themselves. This can be attributed to the space being less intimidating and more comfortable as a result. Places where this detail can be useful are classrooms and playrooms.

Natural light

Another way to improve the quality of a child focused space is the introduction of natural light. While natural light is important to any space, it is an essential part of a child’s concentric spaces. Light and Natural elements are a wonder to children as they learn new things about the world they live in. The light brightens the mood and keeps children engaged with their activities. As a result, children that have more exposure to natural light have shown to achieve better performance. This is important in most spaces but particularly in learning environments like classrooms and libraries.

Shape and Form

The shape and layout of a space will also have a strong effect on the way children behave in a space. You can observe this when children instinctively start running upon entering a linear space like a corridor. It is important to plan out the intended energy level of a space to get the preferred response. Radial spaces concentrate movement and attention, and is therefore best utilised in learning environments. Conversely linear spaces direct attention and promotes movement, this can be best utilised in active spaces.

Energy Levels

All children are different, while some choose to race around the play area others may instead prefer to have quiet time to read a book. Their mood also factors in to how they behave on the day. Therefore it is important within a spaces that children occupy to set aside a small segments of space that will allow low-energy activity to take place. Having spaces like this gives the child a place to feel secure and relieve stress. Planning for this space can make for a much better result. Corners can easily be converted into such spaces and be as effective with a little help from thoughtful furniture layout.


That concludes this short introduction to designing spaces for children. Please return for the follow up entry which focuses on color/materials and its importance when designing for children.


28th March 2019