Teaching Their Eyes to Swim

A Finnish-style water play nursery in the Woolwich Dockyards.

January 2023 - July 2023
MA Interior Design
Royal College of Art

Water within the built environment is typically seen as an excess. Observations I made of its presence dripping and pooling within the Junction Box, a disused industrial site in Woolwich, demonstrate its ability to erode and take control, subverting the way we treat water within architecture.

In response to a lack of suitable nurseries in Woolwich and the increase in need due to the Faraday Works redevelopment, my project proposes a water play nursery on the ground floor. The current nursery education structure was originally intended to bring up Victorian children to work in factories such as those on site. At a time where this approach is being revised, there is potential to use the nursery as a testbed for the more creative education style of the Finnish system which champions learning through play.

Adopting three design strategies that stem from the qualities of water – materiality, water play and scale – space becomes an implicit teaching tool for the Finnish curriculum. Water is also used throughout the project as a co-author, challenging my autonomy as the designer and allowing it to once again take control.


Early Development

Material exploration - A series of joints which aim to challenge the extermination of moss and its reputation as excess within the built environment. These joints act to facilitate the growth of moss through creating a hospitable environment to nurture them.

Mapping of puddles within the Junction Box and the shifting reflection of the building within the puddles.

Models depicting a section of the building and its reflection in a puddle.

         Early sketch models playing with scale and materiality inspired by water.

Process of creating the form of the space, using water as a co-author.