In 2015, we joined forces with Architecture 00. Together, we enjoy collaborating in a shared environment where strategic, urban and social designers, architects, programmers and economists practice design beyond its traditional borders. 00 work with individuals, governments, corporations and communities to solve problems and anticipate change, and to design successful platforms and places. As a studio it aims to reach beyond the design of objects themselves to the social, economic and environmental systems behind them.

Discover Children's Story Centre

Studio Weave have been commissioned to re-imagine the Discover Children's Story Centre in Stratford.

The Centre houses a combination of different functions, including a dedicated ‘Story Trail’, ‘Storytelling Spaces’, a cafe, function rooms and an annually changeable exhibition venue, arranged strategically across the four floors of the building.

The client organisation operates as a registered charity, supported by London Borough of Newham - for whom the centre provides a percentage of the local area ‘play space’ allocation - amongst other foundations and the Arts Council. 

The ground floor was formulated to work hard as a welcome space opening up to the public on the street and offering play space for local & visiting families. The reception area leads to both the bookshop & the play space – providing a warm welcome and filtering people through efficiently.

The play space flows from the ground to the first floor allowing for a dynamic experience for young minds. The basement also houses a theatre & lecture room allowing for collaboration with the spaces above or operating separately. The second floor of the building is the location of the organisation’s offices for quiet and focused productivity.

The project aims to bring everything within the building into the World of Stories. The world of stories is based on the notion that each element within Discover can be re-imagined as a part of the narrative; stairs, lifts, toilets and lunch spaces all have the potential to be wonderful moments within the story.  The thresholds between outside and inside, and the first steps into this world can be celebrated in order to fully immerse visitors and staff in this world.

Our design decisions were based on the principle of the ‘World of Stories’. The notion that everything within the building could be brought into the world of stories and imagined as part of the narrative has given rise to the creation of two distinct design languages for the building; that of the ‘Hostelry’ and that of the ‘Environment’.

The evolving narrative behind the project considers the layers within Discover.  The building itself is the base layer, along with how it sits next to its neighbours and within the context of Stratford High Street.  The next layer is doors within the building, considering what shape these doors might take and who might live behind them.  The final layer is the keys that might unlock these doors.   

This concept is then applied to the story trail to inspire stories.  Using the physical building fabric as the basis, a number of settings are developed inside it.  These settings range from the atmospheric, to the more specific.  Within these settings, a number of objects are proposed.  These objects form the play elements.  The final layer is the keys; these keys may unlock parts of the objects and allow the key bearer access to a hidden narrative. 

Bringing the Discover building into the story as a character is key to this evolving narrative.  Until now, this aspect has been missing from the Discover story and this is a perfect opportunity to involve it.  We imagine that the building might assume its former guise as a hostelry.  The hostelry accommodates characters who stay for various lengths of time. Hootah is imagined as a long-term resident and new characters are introduced who stay within the hostelry.  This approach allows us to develop the story in a process of creative engagement, inviting the public to be part of shaping Discover. 

The Environments language develops the idea that these characters staying within the Hostelry create their own settings and objects; opportunities for play and the creation of stories. Some environments may be more fixed, as in the ground and first floor story trails, and others more temporary, such as in the exhibition or laboratory spaces. The Environments language imagines a different identity for each level of the building.  The ground floor story trail is imagined as an enchanted forest, with all sorts of strange and wonderful places and characters.  Whilst the Environment of the enchanted forest is the predominant design language, there are places where the Hostelry layer peeps through, particularly in the design and materiality of the in-built cabinetry.  

The cabinetry provides craft activity, story-telling and writing spaces and operational storage.  Whilst playing on the story trail, the presence of the Hostelry layer encourages you to come out of the immersive story trail environment for a while, and concentrate on developing your story.  The Hostelry layer provides you with tools to write, draw or perform your story as you develop it through things you find on the Story Trail.  It is a place you can go to focus on your story, outside of the world of play.   

The first floor story trail is imagined as a world up in the clouds.  It is the layer at the top of the enchanted forest, floating above the ground below. Again, the Hostelry layer expresses itself in the cabinetry, providing places for story and character development, dressing up and recording your story.  The two levels of the Story Trail are directly connected via a new staircase to aid the flow of visitors around the building. Whilst not strictly within the Story Trail, the Environments language is continued into the second floor.  Here, there is a laboratory space and the control room as the Discover staff office.