SolBe Learning

Location  Boston Metro, MA

Type  Educational

Client  SolBe

Collaborator  Supernormal

Year   2016

Status  Ongoing


With ambitions to disrupt the currently inflexible childcare and early education model in preparation for new generation of professional parents, the SolBe founders require a design and a set of urban values that enables their concept to scale and engage across many local communities. The SolBe Learning Center scope includes center prototype design and scalable guidelines for future design replication and location optimization.
The design and planning team worked collaboratively with the SolBe founders to translate a set of soft cultural values into urban criteria that will guide and automate site selection across metro regions. Such criteria merge brand priorities such as advocacy, community and observation with experiential elements of everyday urban life to set standards around walkable access to an essential set of amenities and transit for families and educators, a relatively dense residential fabric housing a diverse and engaged community, and bonus priorities such as symbiotic local programming opportunities like co-working and senior living. The method optimizes site selection at the metro neighborhood scale and provides clear guidance around essential site-scale characteristics that will best serve the internal design requirements.
SolBe programming and design are locally responsive but scalable across location. Classroom units are pre-fabricated off-site to simplify local fit-out, streamline the SolBe learning experience and scale brand presence across location. They offer greater cost predictability between regional labor markets and significant time savings during construction. In addition to allowing for mass-customization between SolBe locations, the units are customized by developmental stage and offer us the laboratory to analyze the relationship between space and learning.

Maximizing Value

The space created between the classrooms is as important as the dwelling units themselves. This flexible zone enables a high level of internal programmatic flexibility across the weekly calendar; it accommodates early childhood uses during the weekdays and a wider range of community programming during the evenings and weekends. This progressive orientation toward neighborhood activation and educational engagement requires that the prefabricated dwelling units can transform to a resting state while the remaining space takes on a new life and neighborhood role as weekday care winds down.