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Experiential Learning At Bogle Architects’ Early Learning Village

A collaboration between the Stamford American International School and the Australian International School, the 54,000 sqm Early Learning Village provides a spectrum of lively learning environments.

Experiential Learning At Bogle Architects’ Early Learning Village

Two schools, one village. Opened September last year, the Early Learning Village (ELV) is perhaps the most ambitious international pre-school project in Singapore. Owned by global school operator Cognita, ELV spans 54,000 sqm and houses 2,100 children (aged 18 months to six years old) as well as 400 staff members.

The school is a collaboration between Cognita’s two leading schools, the Stamford American International School (SAIS) and the Australian International School. Tasked to design the impressive facility was the international architecture firm Bogle Architects, in collaboration with architect and Professor of Environmental Behavioural Studies at Sydney University Gary More and a Reggio Emilia Early Years Education specialist Rosie Long.

As expected of its scale and security needed to realise the project, the Early Learning Village’s appears massive, complex and in the architects’ words, “rigorously logical”. This impression is tempered with strategic use of greenery and elevated open spaces while inside, the architects and collaborators employed a dual environment approach.

The interior of the school complex unfolds in two scales – adults’ and children’s. Custom-made child-sized doors, work benches with steps for different heights and signage at children’s eye-level exist harmoniously with adult-size furniture and amenities.

“This complex project has been a challenging exercise in terms of connectivity and vertical transportation, to ensure that significant numbers of teachers and children can orientate themselves easily around the building,” says Bogle Architects Founding Director Ian Bogle.

The unique two-schools-in-one-complex is playfully expressed with the signage. The carpeted floor, for instance, is designed with colour-coded routes, each with an animal (native to Australia and America) ‘guide’. This carpet serves as a fun, intuitive and informative wayfinding for children, as smooth traffic is essential in the schools’ day-to-day operation.

The two school each has its own permanent staff quarters and classrooms while some of the larger facilities like external discovery play zones, the swimming pool, the multi-purpose hall and several specialist subject classes are shared.

Touring the village during its opening, one can hear the student’s excited, if peculiar, shouts like “We’re in Australia now, there’s a kangaroo!” and “Oh, It’s the Americans! Hello there!”

ELV’s organisation reflects the varied requirement of children, from an 18-month baby to a six-year-old, with the expansive play zones at lower levels dedicated to the enthusiastic four and five-year-olds, while parents can comfortably watch over them from the adjacent café.

“The challenge here was not to celebrate the scale but to make the building feel small, curious and playful – just like its occupants,” says Bogle, “and we have created a wealth of exciting and intriguing spaces.”

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