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Revamping safe spaces

Despite the difficulties and challenges that we faced, it was fulfilling to see the smiles on the children’s faces.

Louise Lizan

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NEWLY-renovated recreational area with toys.

In a household setting where both parents have to work from 7 in the morning to 6 at night, learning centers are a safe space for their children to grow and learn in-between their parents’ working hours. It has become a growing need for individuals who have to care for their kids’ future to have them cared for while learning in these establishments.

Fortunately, for those working for the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, there’s no need to find a more suitable place for their children to grow within their reach and continue to develop their skills than in a learning center on-campus. And it’s all thanks to the graduating students of Interior Design batch of 2020.

On 10 January, the UP BS Interior Design (BSID) graduating batch of 2020, in cooperation with Project Kalinga and the KDCC, unveiled the fruit of their hard labor through the project dubbed “Project Kalinga: Nurturing Spaces for the Future.”

For the past few months, the ten graduating women of UP BSID Class of 2020 have dedicated their talent and expertise to refurbishing the institution’s Kalinga Day Care Center, which is under the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, for their annual capstone course, ID 179. It took the girls five to six months, from the conceptualization, planning, designing, down to the execution of their plan.

ID 179 is a default program which all Interior Design batches have to undergo as a special project of their own choice.

This batch 2020 chose Kalinga Day Care Center (KDCC) as their beneficiary, seeing that the “age group of the students marks the significant development in children as they transition to the educative system,” and how teachers in these learning centers “play a vital role in the expansion of the children’s’ ideas and experiences.” The KDCC in Diliman was last tended to in 2007.

The spaces covered by the renovation were the reception area, teachers’ room, recreation area, kitchen, storage room and a restroom. A designated breastfeeding area and dining area, were also provided.

As to the design concept, the students formed the idea from a tree house. “We wanted to integrate the warmth of the home in the stimulating and playful environment for the center because of the kids who use the space (are the kids of the employees.) These employees have to leave their kids to work so we need to ensure that their kids will have fun, with their parents trusting that their kids are in a safe space,” Clement Ignacio, one of the students who took the program, explained.

Hues of green, brown and blue color the renovated halls of the center complete with toys, books and other essential things for the children to learn and have fun. The whole space mimicks an actual tree house and gives a carefree vibe from the environment.

Aside from the standards and considerations in renovating the space, the graduating students also considered how the design and materials used could last for the long-term, as KDCC provides and cares for the present and future employees of UP and their children. “At the same time, this institution is meant to be here for a long while,” Ignacio added.

“Since the project is institutional — and it’s specifically for kids, — we have to be specific as well in terms of the materials, the finishes that we specified to be able to accommodate the children’s needs,” Erielle Ekong, one of the students, said.

As the students were just ten in the batch, the whole project was challenging. “We were spread quite thinly to be able to renovate each space and make sure that it becomes safe for the children,” Angela Titular said. “Through this project, we learned so much as interior designers and we became closer as a batch.”

Learning experiences
Although challenging, the project allowed these women to give back to the people and the kids.

“Despite the difficulties and challenges that we faced, it was fulfilling to see the smiles on the children’s faces,” Ekong said. “This experience allowed us to realize what it means to be an interior designer from UP Diliman.”

CHILDREN’S books full of timeless stories and fairytales.

As future designers can affect people and their spaces, she and the rest of the class aim to “contribute to the well-being of the person” and even as they saw the importance of their craft in the duration of the special project. “When we design something, it contributes to the community and it also serves as our legacy to the people whose lives we have touched,” she added.

Ignacio said that the project is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be able to help others. “We gave our all to this project, even our sleep, to execute it to perfection because the place is for children,” she said. “I think what’s significant for us was to have a purpose to turn back to whenever there are difficulties in the future.”

“It’s heartwarming how people work together to achieve things like this,” another student, Sophia Teaño said, “As a service-learning course (ID 179), service is something that we can’t achieve on our own. Through 179, we have something special to offer to the real world. This is our power as designers, if only we keep on remembering the knowledge we acquired.”

Angela Titular highlighted the service they give to others, as she said, “I think that it is a good quality that UP instills in us. And hopefully, it can be seen through this project.”

Photos by UP Interior Design Class of 2020

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