When people come to Pachamama, the one universal response is that they are genuinely surprised at how beautiful the environments are. They invariably wonder about the creativity that led to the outcome.
We have come to learn that the reason for the response is because Pachamama is so different to what parents and children usually experience in the ‘run of the mill’ early childhood education services. Pachamama’s environments singularly set it apart from the usual experience. Everything else flows from there.
At the heart of Pachamama’s philosophy is the understanding that our environments are the foundations upon which everything is based.
Having been involved in design processes outside of Pachamama, my experience is that it is the architects who have very set ideas about how something should look and feel. This is not to say the concepts are inappropriate or not well designed. They are usually ‘fine.’ They tend to meet the needs of the specification and the requirements for a builder to quote upon and, of course, tick all the relevant boxes.
But, quite often the fundamentals of a childcare centre are designed by a third-party developer, not an approved provider who has their well considered and thought provoking educational philosophy first and foremost in their minds. The developers use the ideas and designs of others, transferring equipment choices from supplier catalogues … and, understandably, all done to a budget.
The results generally generate responses usually similar to ‘it’s good,’ ‘it looks nice,’ or ‘it’s alright.’ But often the deep connection to the needs of the staff and children are lacking and the enthusiasm is absent.
At Pachamama, the internal and external spaces have been carefully considered with the staff and children in mind.
Pachamama wanted to make sure beautiful calming spaces were available to staff breaks to have rejuvenating ‘me time’. It also wanted to ensure that children felt at home in their spaces, to promote learning and confidence.As with every service, you have to work within physical and regulatory limits. But spaces have been crafted and created to meet the needs of the children, offering staff opportunities to be creative with their program.
It also should be noted that spaces evolve over time as it becomes tired or is not working as well as it used to due to changing needs. Environments need to proactively change for purposeful and well considered reasons.
Underlying all of this must be the service philosophy. Pachamama has a laser-like focus on being a ‘home away from home.’ It is of utmost importance to provide an environment that stimulates an open, warmly connected emotional response for the children’s wellbeing and confidence.
This is what makes the Pachamama difference.
I remember the first Monday in October 2012 when Pachamama opened following a weekend renovation-blitz on the drab and depressingly uninspiring entry foyer. A busy mother came in, stopped, stood straight, quietly looked around at the uplifting paintings and colours, took in the calming smell of essential oils, smiled and complimented the unexpected change by stating, ‘this is like a day spa!’
A positive emotional response to a welcoming environment.