A beautiful, uber-designed kindergarten was recently completed in Ramat Hasharon, a suburb of Tel Aviv in Israel. A collaboration of Sarit Shani Hay (who makes unique toys, children’s furnishings, and textiles) and Lev-Gargir architects, the design philosophy for the space was that “the environment children grow up in strongly reflects how their sensibilities develop and that childhood should be celebrated.”
The design of the school reflects the utopian ideals of its designers that children should be encouraged to be creative, sensitive, imaginative, and original.
But shouldn’t the future of these children be celebrated as well?
While unique, inviting, and extremely aesthetic, the design of the kindergarten is inherently non-sustainable. Budget and practicality were guiding factors in selecting the materials for the design, and so the entire school is carpeted in light blue PVC (polyvinyl chloride). The furnishings were constructed from plywood, formica, and whole wood.
PVC is a controversial material whose environmental sustainability has spurred heated debates for over 20 years. Environmentalists claim that the production of PVC (a pervasively used material in construction) releases hazardous chlorine-based chemicals such as dioxin, and that this can cause severe health problems.
Industrialists claim that PVC should be celebrated for its versatility and cost-effectiveness, and that studies have shown that its environmental effects are not substantially worse than other similar materials.
Shani Hay chose the materials used in the kindergarten’s design based on their durability and how easy it would be to clean them. But this leads one to wonder what subtextual messages are being conveyed to the five-year-olds at the kindergarten? That everything should be based upon ease of use now and nearsightedness with regards to the future?
Read about green initiatives at Israeli kindergartens::