Maya Chandler


Kinderkípos | Athens, Greece | Unit 21 | 2019

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This project, entitled Kinderkípos, proposes a new kindergarten for children and their parents in Athens, which re-imagines one of the ancient schools of philosophy for today. Of the four flagship schools (Plato’s Academy, Aristotle’s Lyceum, Epicurus’ Garden, and Zeno at the Stoa Poikile), Epicurus’ Garden is the only one whose location is unknown. Therefore, this project replaces it in the city and reimagines the philosophical negotiations between the four schools as a two-part curriculum for young children and their caregivers. Both age groups visit the site, proceeding through a series of separate programmatic spaces that are born out of various philosophical subjects (ex. epistemology, ethics, politics, logic).
The project began with an examination of the teachings of each philosophical school in Athens, and identified the theme of competing points of view as a method for building design. The philosophical themes are therefore emphasized within the architecture and programme, as a new way of incorporating philosophical thought in today’s world. The paired programmes draw from Epicurean philosophy (hedonism) and from the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno, as the basis for an “Epicurean Curriculum.”
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Children move through a progression of educational spaces centred around logic, politics, epistemology, and ethics, while adults engage in activities that emphasise Epicurean views of ethics, theology, epistemology, and politics. These philosophies manifest in the interactions encouraged by the architecture—seclusion, togetherness, independence, observation, etc. The design was driven first by these philosophical concepts, and second by the users within the spaces, tailoring interactions to young children or adults, respectively.
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Epicurus’ Garden was a house and small plot of land where he lived with his followers, in a kind of “minimalist” lifestyle. He was a hedonist—but one that preached moderation, valuing simple pleasures and friendship over excess. The Kinderkípos becomes a school within a residential area of Athens that allows visitors to form a community in the way that Epicurus’ followers did at his school.
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