Creative co-working giant WeWork and acclaimed architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group have teamed up to reimagine education starting with the launch of WeGrow, a new school in the heart of New York City that encourages education through play. Designed for children between three and nine years of age, the light-filled learning landscape is a tactile environment filled with custom-made curved architecture and movable furnishings. The theme of nature runs throughout and can be seen everywhere from the woodsy palette of timber surfaces and shades of green to the Laufen-tiled vertical garden filled with leafy plants.
Located in WeWork’s headquarters in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, the first WeGrow school spans 10,000 square feet and boasts a variety of communal spaces, which make up more than half of the school’s footprint. Designed to foster “natural education” by promoting activities centered on discovery and collaboration, WeGrow hopes to “undo the compartmentalization found in traditional schools … by interweaving learning with playing spaces,” Bjarke Ingels Group said. “The school environment becomes a third teacher that unleashes the superpower of each child.”
In addition to diverse playscapes, the school consists of four classrooms, flexible workshops, community space, a multipurpose studio, an art studio and a music room. Hard corners are eschewed in favor of round, organic forms, like the curved storage units built with three different shelving levels for each age group. Sound-absorbing “clouds” made from felt and decorated with nature-inspired patterns hang from the ceiling and are illuminated with Ketra bulbs that change in color and intensity depending on the time of day. Felt is also used in the lobby and in the lounge.
“From the lobby to the classrooms, WeGrow is lit by Gople Lamp and Alphabet of Light — flexible lighting systems designed by BIG Ideas and manufactured by Artemide to create ambiance effects that form comfortable, natural lighting throughout the school day,” Bjarke Ingels Group said in a project statement. “Playful and transparent, yet homelike and structured, WeGrow nurtures the child’s education through introspection, exploration and discovery.”
Images by Laurian Ghinitoiu and Dave Burk via BIG