Estonian Association of Interior Architects / annual award 2018 nominee
Location
Eesti Ajaloomuuseum, Pirita tee 56, Tallinn
Authors
Aet Ader, Karin Tõugu, Mari Hunt, Kadri Klementi, Mari Möldre, Helena Koop, Nele Šverns (b210)
Curators
Ehti Järv, Kristi Paatsi, Sireli Uusmaa
Graphic design and illustrations
Kristina Tort
Commissioned by
Eesti Ajaloomuuseum
Photos
Maris Tomba

I liked the big tree the kids run around like crazy. The Children’s Republic is a good place to play hide-and-seek, it has secret corners and dens.
Moona, age 8

AN EXCITING AND ENGAGING location for kids, and tricky subjects such as politics, governance, democracy and history had to be united under one roof. We had to prepare for various ages and languages, as well as visitors arriving alone or in a group. Besides the arrangement of objects, we also discussed topics related to children and to education, at meetings with the curators. The initiative of the little guests is important, we thought. There is no clear path which must be followed. Everything is placed at a child’s height; the children will investigate and make decisions themselves. We aimed to build a free-for-all, where the kids can climb, move and roll around and we added small corners for some alone-time.

WE USED IDEAS THAT ORIGINATED FROM our own childhoods. Kadri’s most vivid memory of space involved moving around as a small child, walking between rooms and making her way back, without having to turn around. In the Children’s Republic, you can climb around in the house in the centre, for example. The house looked even more amazing in the initial project, but the floorboards could not handle such weight. We had to cut back on the house and now there is no second floor, but it is still great and has different levels. From the outside, you observe it as a house, but once inside you no longer perceive it as such.

The important thing about the colourful characters created by illustrator Kristina Tort is that there are all kinds of people (as in society) and that they don’t mimic the most common roles.

AT THE SAME TIME, we were designing a playground in the courtyard of the museum and all the technical requirements were always in focus – from what height can a child fall unhurt, what limits and possibilities there are to climbing on the equipment. We also anticipated how children might use different parts of the playground. So, there would be activities for those who prefer to prod and poke instead of climbing.

PERHAPS THE SLIDE posed the most difficulties. It was drawn up in Germany and according to the initial plans, kids would have had to climb off the exterior of the house to get into the slide… We then had to delve into the details of slide construction: slopes, turns, safe zones, etc. The slide is hidden, it does not immediately catch the eye when you enter the room. When you do find the slide’s end you will want to know where the entrance is. And once you find that, you also find the secret of the room. Adults too can fit in the slide.

Mari Hunt, Kadri Klementi

Ruumipilt 2018