Atelier Caracas explores forms of inclusive architecture with a centre for neurodiverse children
Fun Maze, an education-oriented therapy and rehabilitation space in Caracas, was conceived as a means to humanize the doctor’s office for youngsters.
What impact could a learning and therapy environment designed to really intuit the needs of a child with mental disabilities have? Our wellness has a great deal to do with the space we inhabit, both the built and the natural. According to Architecture for Autism, an American non-profit, such design has the potential to empower a young person with Autism Spectrum Disorder, for example, to ‘substantially improve their sensory processing abilities, learn robustly and develop permanent connectedness to their peers’. Fun Maze, an infrastructure that ‘transforms therapy spaces into lineal, lively “parks”’, is a step toward a future with more interiors that fit this bill.
Designed by Atelier Caracas in the Venezuelan capital, the centre encompasses consultation offices, sensorial therapy rooms, and common spaces along an interactive, 45-sq-m long and 3-m wide path that promotes alternative formats of gathering. Situated within the boundary area of a mid-century residence, the covered 187-sq-m corridor encourages children – as well as therapists, parents and even pets – to relate to and interact with scale, light and space in new ways. Curved turquoise walls studded with playful spherical windows guide one through the area, free to navigate the nooks and crannies as if in a maze. The overhead covering was built on a structure of metal trusses and roofed with galvanized sheeting incorporating a linear perforation. This element allows natural light in, adapting with the changing (tropical) weather conditions.