Provide Opportunity for Growth

It may perhaps appear as claiming too much that architectural design can help people meet higher level needs than lie at the top of Maslow’s pyramid: to help satisfy the human need for growth and self-actualization. Yet for pre-school children, the immediate outside environment can appear to be a new world to be discovered. For the old, it is a world that they can easily be isolated from. For most working adults, with our cars and life outside the home, we often place little importance on the place and people in our immediate neighbourhood, but not so for the least mobile sections of our society - the small children, the old and the disabled.

Malaysia's most famous cartoonist is Lat who tells the story of a young boy growing up in the countryside 40 years ago. This is sweet nostalgia for most Malaysians of my generation. But nowadays our young children do not have the same chance to explore their environment in the same carefree way.

Play areas

Play is an important arena for learning for the child; growing up can be seen as a process, where the child becomes more and more independent of the parent, exploring first the spaces around the mother and progressing to other rooms in the house and then the front yard. The opportunity for exploring new environment is best presented in small discreet steps so that children can explore them at their own pace.

The problem with the typical Malaysian situation is that the process of exploring new territory independent of the parent stops at the front gate, beyond which parents do not considered it safe. When the child is finally old enough to go out unaccompanied by an adult it is too big a transition and the child feels disadvantaged compared to the child that is able to explore bit by bit the neighbourhood around the home.

This suggests that the spaces outside the home should be made conducive to the growing up process. They should be safe for smaller children with ample play and civic amenities. Play areas with football fields some minutes away from the home do not serve the needs of preschoolers and young primary school children.

In the Honeycomb courtyards, in Honeycomb flats with their lobbies and 'Kotapuri', we aim to provide places just outside the home, relatively safe from strangers and traffic, where small children can play under the watchful eyes of their parents and neighbours.

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