Not a Box

Experience Centre / Recreational | Interiors | 4,050 SqFT | CHENNai

Not A Box is an ever-changing experiential space for kids and adults alike to play, create, observe, explore and interact with one another, conceptualized and built by intensively channeling all our childhood memories; A space that grows and transforms on the whim of a child’s unbound imagination.

It all began with a book brought to us by our clients – ‘Not A Box’ by Antoinette Portis where the author presents how a child’s imagination can create enumerable things from a simple cardboard ‘Box’. Ironically, the space given to us was a ‘Box’…
…And we transformed it into an adrenaline rush promising obstacle course, a monochrome cafe and the core, a hall filled with sliding, rotate-able panels that can transform the space everyday.

Exhibiting principles of Suprematism, conceptually this is a story of how a tiny dot becomes a line, a shape and eventually an object in space, making the space itself. It is a study of juxtaposition of three basic shapes and three primary colors: how the pure forms and colors come together as a kit of parts for creation of enumerable imaginative plays.

The shell was treated as literally a ‘Box’..of goodies. Finished in subtle grays on the floor and ceiling, the ‘Box’ then took on layers of wall graphics, colorful pelmets and primary color structures with objects within. The obstacle course, all along the periphery, is our interpretation of activities that we long for in the outdoors.

This is a venture to bring in all that energy, playfulness and a little bit of competitiveness into a secure indoor scenario. It is a simple composition of circle, triangle, square in primary colors, that invites us all to re-live all our childhood fantasies… jump on the blocks, swing from the ropes, hop under the tires, crawl into the tunnel, slide on zip line, climb on the poles and of-course a lot of other monkey business. There is a sense of rusticity and adventure to the space, where falling and getting up is a part of the play.

The central area: the core is a hall filled with sliding, rotate-able panels that can transform in size, scale, location, circulation and the space everyday. The panels slide along the pelmets and rotate 360 deg. Some of the panels are magnetic and have colored blocks clinging to them. Others have puzzles and body pegs. Yet more are simply black or white boards: giant canvasses waiting to be filled; all left to ones imagination. The hall transforms itself into an art class session, theatre stage, and a story telling night or simply an unending maze full of activities in every corner.

The cafe is a monochromatic backdrop which caters to the much needed snack requirements as well as events such as dress up, board game sessions etc while being a full time library and toys area. Foam blocks form the seating that gets thrown around based on the event. Similarly the backdrop is designed as a peg wall that like all the other elements in space keeps transforming based on the need.

Essentially, Not A Box is a study in contrasts; a space that stimulates a wild imagination, where hard lessons and soft landings go hand in hand, bursts of color intermingle with monochrome, mostly it reminds us that every box is just a box, unless we make it ‘Not a Box’. 

Award | Young Practice of the Year, Commendation | IIID Design Excellence Awards 2019

Award | Shortlist, Educational| Wade India 2019

Award | Shortlist, Leisure Project | Trends Excellence Awards 2019

Published on India Design ID | Aug2019

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