Architect, designer and entrepreneur Sneha Divias talks to Downtown Design about the factors, design process and implementation behind children's leisure spaces in hotels and beyond.
Passionate with an entrepreneurial vision; Sneha founded SNEHA DIVIAS ATELIER- a boutique interior architecture studio based in Dubai specializing in commercial, hospitality and residential projects. Sneha along with her team creates architecture and design experiences that are clean and balanced yet carefully detailed. The studio’s self-styled storytelling is concept driven with a thoughtful process and technical expertise that lies at the heart of the firm.
Prior to founding the Atelier, Sneha worked on renowned architecture and design projects in Lisbon and Dubai. An urbane architect who places focus on details; Sneha has unique vision in how she helms the Atelier.
Focusing on how the design of spaces for children, Sneha shares her expertise on how to overcome design obstacles and utilise materials for positive impact in children’s leisure spaces in hospitality and beyond.
“Dubai is an ever-growing city with a record of 14.9 m overnight visitors in 2016 owing to its reputation for hassle-free, family tourism. Last year saw significant momentum in the number of play spaces through sector-specific offers and family-oriented theme parks giving choices that are both eclectic and diverse.”
“The city is responding to the need for more child-friendly entertainment spaces, with enclosed and temperature controlled areas to make them hospitable during the summer months. On a parallel note when we take a look at hotels and resorts; you see that they are generously proportioned to accommodate well-quipped kid’s clubs, indoor activities as well as outdoor play areas and pools.
However, there is an over load of spaces with too much visual information, permanent twilight lighting, fake elements and constant sound.
When designing children clubs for hospitality projects it is important to set out the principles for imaginative, innovative, and stimulating spaces that give children and young people the freedom to play creatively, allow them to experience and element of risk, challenge and excitement, introducing pedagogical aspects. This incentivizes us to think more laterally about establishing design that is safe, practical and fun, yet provides mental and physical stimulation for young minds.
The maxim is: good design is an essential investment.
In order to avoid overstimulating children with a variety of visual cues the area needs to have the right space planning as well as control in colours and lighting. This is done through the application of varied neutral materials with consistent colour accents, well located partitions, effective signage and sound control. Use of textured natural and sustainable materials such as wood and natural lighting through windows and skylights help stimulate the senses to encourage greater use of imagination.
Successful play spaces facilitate free social interaction, allowing children to choose whether and when to play alone or with others, to negotiate, cooperate, compete or resolve conflicts. This is emphasized in a culturally diverse environment like Dubai, with versatile areas that incorporate collective use and spaces to retreat.
Ergonomics and proportions should be respected having in mind that users will be children of different ages, with different heights and eye levels. What and how they see, should be considered when designing accessible spaces.
Crucially important are safety aspects and attention to detail. The ideal play area should offer visible, manageable risks, as playing is all about testing and transcending one's limits.
Before putting pen to paper it’s important to dedicate time for research and references to understand the spatial and psychological needs of the users. During this research, one example that caught our attention is the work of Hibinosekkei + Youji No Shiro with their clean and comfortable architectural environments. The Japanese architects prove how attention to detail can reflect on the physical strength and mental attentiveness of children by application of good design.
With the appetite for such facilities and spaces definitely growing in the region it’s easy to see that both business owners and designers need to provide a higher element of experience through informed design, key placement and the ability to think creatively.”
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