Showcase: WeGrow

Curvaceous wooden reading dens and lily-pad-like cushions for jumping on are among the playful features that architecture firm BIG has included in co-working company WeWork's first school, which has opened in New York City.

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The WeGrow school opened in the Chelsea neighbourhood on 5 September 2018, in time for the start of the new academic year.

Aimed at ages three to nine, the education centre is the first of its kind run by WeWork– the brand more commonly known for its shared workspaces that have disrupted office culture in cities internationally.

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IG – which has offices in New York, London and Copenhagen – was enlisted to design the school to suit the Montessori approach to teaching, a method that focuses on educating children through play and interacting with their environment. It also typically doesn't separate children by age.

In response, the firm's design centres around an open-plan classroom, installed with a series of furniture to suit activities ranging from play, reading, yoga, dance, athletics and martial arts.

"Playful and transparent, yet homelike and structured, WeGrow will nurture the child's education through introspection, exploration and discovery," said BIG in a statement, when the project was unveiled last year.

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"BIG's design for WeGrow seeks to undo the compartmentalisation often found in traditional school environments and reinforces the significance of engaging kids in an interactive environment," it added.

Among the main features of the school are a series of curvaceous structures, built from layers of wood for the children to clamber in and out of.

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