an outside-in environment

In thinking about how to improve the indoor outdoor flow of an environment I have begun to consider many other aspects of the prepared environment.

On the one hand I really enjoy an environment that feels like a family home, especially a well converted older home like a bungalow.  However, traditional building structures split the indoor outdoor spaces  more or less 50/50 and often a single or double door is the only flow between the spaces.

I have lived the last 4 1/2 years in Auckland, New Zealand, where the outdoor loving people have evolved a fondness for massive folding glass doors to open entire walls and enjoy the warm temperate climate.  (It it worth noting that bug screens are nearly unheard of in the country and birds often wander into cafes and homes.  The ubiquitous moving glass walls, the popularity of modern and contemporary architecture, and the government mandated  2:1 outdoor : indoor area ratio in early childhood centers, have led me to the idea of an outside-in environment.

What if we surrounded an outdoor area with several small buildings that open completely?  Each small building could be a curriculum area (Practical Life, Language,Mathematics, Sensorial, etc…) and additional buildings could be added for specific functions (snack/lunch/rest area for all day programs, an office, a bathroom block).  Each building might be 15′ (5m) deep and can be equipped with a covered deck.  Most would not require plumbing and only minimal lighting (especially if skylights or solar tubes are used).

Here are a sketches of different arrangements that might be possible.


This arrangement creates a contained courtyard requiring no fencing and clear sight lines.


This arrangement creates a larger central courtyard and smaller private areas in the corners.  This also demonstrates that each building can be individualized with different colors (or even sizes).


This shows a different arrangement with more buildings.

How small each building is depends on the needs, but I envision that shipping containers could be up-cycled.  Here are a few photos of converted container buildings.

Here is a website with additional information about converting shipping containers.

Or some fantastic pre-fab builders are also available such as Wee Houses from Alchemy Architects.

I think the idea has merit and I hope that it will be shared and considered by many.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s