The venue aims to provide a public space where children can exercise their creativity.
The space is divided into distinct areas for children of different ages and abilities and furnished with free-standing, mushroom-like structures.
A circular seating and play area in the centre of the room features an inner, cushioned play-area for babies and toddlers and is surrounded by stools so parents can sit at the same level as their children.
When covered, this area becomes a large meeting table or platform for activities or performances. The canopy above provides diffused, coloured lighting.
A large, orange structure acts as the central hub of the venue, housing facilities including a nappy-changing unit, kitchenette, shower-room, electrical services and equipment storage.
A dining table on two levels allows parents and children to eat at the same table.
The interior wall is made up of three parts: at the lower level some panels are articulated, allowing them to become inclined seating, shelving, sound and light deflectors or a small ladder; the middle tier acts as storage and the upper, perforated level offers acoustic dampening.
Behind this wall the four corners of the space contain an office, resident artist's area, furniture storage and a perch.
Photographs by Jérôme Spriet.
Here are some more details from Metali Crasset:
The Maison des Petits
The Maison des Petits is located in the 104 CENT QUATRE in Paris, the centre for artistic creation and production.
This is a place opening to the outside to welcome the district's children aged from 0 to 5 years accompanied by their parents.
The Maison des Petits is a place for meeting and mediation where people come to become familiar with artistic practices (the resident artists propose devices for children's use) and an area for discovery, encounters and listening. This area proposes a new logic for creating a suspended time full of surprises and discoveries.
It is a place committed and organised around scenarios for welcoming and generous uses which create very personal aesthetics. It is made up of various areas which are put to use according to the children's ages and their relative autonomy.
The place is both very luminous and airy thanks to a sky-blue shell and dynamics thanks to shades of bright colours. An artificial garden made from a shell offsets the industrial character of the place. Inside the shell mushrooms of various sizes are growing which make up the sub-areas on a children's scale and are supports for the activities. For the older ones, an area for autonomous discovery formalised by:
- on the one side, an intervention platform with an artist's work specially designed for the place
on the other, the little house grouping together daily rituals in the form of:
- a rest area at the back,
- a big water point for a sensorial approach thanks to the Montessori equipment to be used autonomously and arranged at their height,
- a library with a large number of works.
- The parents are invited to sit down around the table which is the centre so that they can keep an eye on the children while reading or chatting.
For very young children and their parents, the navel in the centre: a round meeting point made up of a flexible floor with a support ledge all around. The parents who are continuously there with their children are invited to sit on the pouffes all around so that they are at the same height.
The flexible centre is completely covered, then forming a large platform where the older children can come from time to time or to become a large low table around which seating is placed for all sorts of encounters, debates, etc. On the navel a hat floats, like an oversized and curved parasol giving the intimate aspect necessary for babies and which provides soft and coloured lighting. Just behind the navel is an enormous mushroom.
- in its foot: the technical core, a closed area with two entrances:
- to the right, services for children (a water point to wash hands and a children's toilet,
- to the left, services for adults only: an area for nappy changing with shower and water point and kitchenette. Close by, a dining table at two heights for snacks.
- In the mushroom's top, the platform enables the light, sound diffuser and artistic appliances to be hung high up.
At the back of the area, for the small and older children: the activity mushrooms. Movable structures which can be moved around and configured according to the day's activities thanks to a range of extensions: elements to make a table, compartments to offer tools, a flexible separator, etc. In addition, the foot is luminous to give the protective top an area to scale.
All around the shell formed by a double skin which, like two brackets, run along the walls where there are no openings to the outside. The double skin is made up of three layers of inclinable panels and some of them are articulated. The lower layer, made up of inclined sections offer supports for children: Here, it can be changed into a comfortable back to complete the seating for the storytelling and rest corner, Here, it becomes a shelving support where the games are set out. Here, it allows sound and light to be diffused. Here, it can be converted into a mini-ladder.
The layer in the middle made up of doors is used by adults only to tidy away. Finally, the upper layer is made of panels of the same colour but with micro-perforations to form acoustic panels which are inclined inwards. At the four corners of the area, the double skin stretches away from the walls to create semi-open areas offering:
- a small office corner bathed in yellow together with a small sitting room
- an area devoted to the guest artist with a small presentation stand facing towards the outside display window,
- a area for storing additional furniture,
- finally, the last corner has a small perched and hidden cabin.
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