FINDING COMFORT IN CONTINUITY
Anthony Carnevale Elementary School, Providence RI
IntAR Charette - Group work
We responded to the renovation of room 204 with Finding Comfort in Continuity, an elegant and dynamic system of additions that centers around creating a quickly adaptable, comfortable, and joyful sensory experience for the students with autism, while augmenting order and functionality in the classroom. not detracting from it.
Gently giving, not imposing, structure and function
The students of room 204 above all need a calming, safe, and softened environment to slowly transition into being part of a social community. The room is divided seamlessly into four zones: Sensory, Educational, Community, and Computer Learning; with the zones each being color and texture coordinated into different nature themes. This empowers both learning and recreational activities with the same sense of wonder and excitement, thus minimizing the chance of escalations during instruction. The Light, permeable atmosphere created by the curtain wall and the continuity of organic lines throughout the furniture makes the room feel free of any imposed hierarchy, while subtle colour and materials shirts in the room actually create simples cues needed to gently give structure to the students.
A new system for organization
Finding comfort in continuity implements an egalitarian, non hierarchical layout of the seating and tables that is based on the modular unit. In a moments notice, the classroom can be molded to the child and instructor's needs. The standard unit of furniture can be recombined in minutes to improve learning; individual chairs become multi-person seating, a private desk space or community gathering zones. Additionally, storage units are already built into the furniture, meaning less visual distraction, and more open space. The furniture will work with the teachers and helpers to create comfortable multi-use spaces, while simultaneously streamlining storage and desk space to do away with distracting clutter. The result will be easier transitions between activities, and a marked increase in focus during educational instruction.
Taking our cue from nature
Finding comfort in continuity is all about creating a safe haven of touch, sound, and sight. The four zones have been assigned natural themes "forest", "meadow", "garden", and "pond" as a way to create positive associations with learning and social growth in the classroom. Within these spaces, massive amounts of attention to sensory detail will improve the experience of sight, hearing, and touch. The soft curves that underlie every gesture in the room create a new landscape of natural topography, in place of the rigid landscape of most building interiors. The presently empty, untapped roof space becomes a beautiful backdrop of greenery over the classroom, and the curtain wall generates soft, diffused light to cut the harsh fluorescents overhead. The curtain wall and the numerous fabric surfaces will absorb sound. This, combined with the soft greyed pastel colour palette of the room, by study, the preferred environment for autistic children, who are used to being constantly bombarded with intense sight and sound.