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Children Plan Village
Detail: The small north Italian town of Correggio, back in 1990, made a decision to take on the new name, Andria - inspired by an ideal city in Italo Calvino's novel, Invisible Cities and transform its vision from a cooperative for abitazioni (habitations) into a cooperative for abitanti (inhabitants). As part of the vision, Andria decided that, since families comprise both adults and children, to be a true cooperative for inhabitants, they would have to listen to children as well as adults. And that's how the idea to build Coriandoline was born.

The first phase began in 1995 with a research project involving 700 children from 12 local nursery and infant schools. 50 teachers and 2 child psychologists worked together with a group of 20 architects, engineers, surveyors, builders and carpenters: talking to the children, taking them on trips to learn about architecture, encouraging them to draw, building models with them. Since there was no specific school curriculum for that age group, classes could devote the whole academic year to the project.

Four years later, the Manifesto of Children's Living Needs was published based on the research. The manifesto is a synthesis of the most popular needs and desires commonly expressed by those 700 children as to how they would like their ideal house to be. Ten essential features ranging from 'transparent', 'hard outside' and 'soft inside' to 'playful', 'decorated' and 'magical'.

Coriandoline consists of 20 homes built around a central square: 10 houses and a block of 10 apartments. There's also a community building in one corner. In Coriandoline, children are allowed to play in all the communal areas, including the garages - which double up as covered playground areas. With their entrances that look like the mouths of giant monsters, the garages are buried under hills that the children can play on. The hills have been planted with a specially selected combination of plants to give them different coloured leaves and flowers to see and scents to sniff all year round. Inside the apartment block there are slides alongside each flight of stairs and distorting funfair-style mirrors in the lift.

Emphasis has also been given to colour and decoration. The walls of the houses are vibrant shades of blue, pink, orange, yellow and green; with giant flowers, birds, butterflies and smiling children painted on them. Each house has its own, very specific identity revealed in its name, for example, The House with the Roof Held up By Trees or The House with the Studio over the Lane. Although the design of Coriandoline was limited to the buildings' exteriors, some of the residents have created interior d�cor to continue their property's theme inside.

Link to additional information:

"Soft on the inside, hard on the outside"
From children�s fantasy to living reality: the first housing development designed by kids, by Dany Mitzman, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Published January 15 2009

Date: September 6 2009