May 25, 2018 10:59 am
Our stunning bespoke Bitterne Park nursery has been designed by ground breaking architects Dust Architecture. Based in London and Winchester but working on projects internationally Dust were inspired by the challenges and opportunities presented by this build and we are thrilled with their design. The huge windows throughout the building flood the rooms with natural light and the spacious rooms enable the team to use their spaces flexibly to adapt to the changing needs of the children as the seasons and the children's interests change and the children themselves develop and grow. Dust fully took on board the need for a nursery to be an environment to inspire the children and their carers and to provide spaces that encourage and welcome children so that they can feel confident and secure. We feel passionately that all our children should feel completely at home in the nursery and have a deep sense of ownership. We believe that to experience this sense of belonging to a beautiful environment is hugely beneficial for children’s self-esteem. We want them to go out into the world with a sense that they deserve the very best for themselves and those around them.
There are some nurseries that over load children with bright primary colours and fluorescent lighting. It is easy for early years environments to become crammed with toys and other resources that are over whelming to small children. ‘Stimulating’ is a word often used to describe a nursery but it is vital that children are stimulated appropriately, gently and in a way that sparks their imaginations giving space and opportunity to investigate, explore and expand. This is why our nurseries are full of natural light and neutral colours creating a calm and productive palette in to which we can add more stimulating materials. Colour has a significant impact on us all, especially children, and we are careful to be mindful of this when planning our environments. Red, for example, has been found to be highly stimulating, it can encourage excitement but also impulsiveness and can increase blood pressure and respiratory rates. Whereas Blue can encourage a sense of serenity and Green can make people feel secure. (The Communication Friendly Spaces Approach Elizabeth Jarman 2013). We want our children, and their families, to feel welcome and at home in our nurseries and for children to feel a sense of belonging and ownership of their environment.
We have created spaces that are flexible and adaptable to the changing needs and interests of each cohort of children. We do not like to be prescriptive or restrictive but to work with our children and experienced practitioners to meet their needs and keep the environment fresh and interesting but also comfortable and familiar. We encourage this through the types of toys and facilities available to the children. We particularly like open ended items; those that the children can use in multiple ways depending on their interests and ideas. Simple blocks that can be linked together for example can become a car, a building, a road or any number of other wonderful things that come out of the children’s extraordinary minds!
Our expansive outdoor play area has been designed in conjunction with Timotay Playscapes, the uk's premier playground company. It has been specifically designed to offer a variety of resources to entice any child, whatever their interests. Whether it is exploring water play with our fabulous water pump, mixing up a potion in our sand or mud kitchens, building with our construction materials, tending our growing areas or exploring the forest areas hunting for bugs. The opportunity to learn outdoors is a fundamental principle of what we do at the Mulberry Bush. Our outdoor spaces are at least as important as our indoor spaces and we give the children the opportunity to be outdoors throughout the day. Unlike many Southampton nurseries we have no restrictions on the amount of time our children can spend outside. Outdoor learning has been found to improve children’s physical and mental health, confidence and sociability and creative learning amongst many other benefits (Student outcomes and natural schooling – path ways from evidence to impact 2106). Our fabulous outdoor spaces, complimenting our stunning buildings, prove a wonderful combination of the best of both worlds for all children.