Legos, Furniture + the Imaginative

A window with a view.
My father knew I was going to be an architect.  Well, a builder of some description. What tipped him off were the hours I spent as a four year boy piecing together those sharp edged mini blocks, we all know as Lego, into miraculously high constructs from another world.  It was my playground.  No rules. No building codes. No laws of physics to hinder my imagination.  It was just me and possibility. Unfortunately, the realities of my adult career as an architect are not free of such limitations.

The doorway of discovery.
Having three children of my own now I am beginning to see the same imaginative instincts in my kids as my dad saw in me.  It struck me the other day when I walked in the front door directly into yet another quasi-construction site in the middle of our living room floor - it was a fully developed shelter. The over-turned chair, upright end table and foot stool together formed the basis of the structural design while pillows, a leather jacket and various blankets served as the building's envelope to protect the inside from "the elements" - mommy, daddy, and baby.  There was a corner window on one side to admit natural light and support cross ventilation as well as a child-height opening for access on the other.  It was brilliant. The irony in their masterpiece was that they already had a pre-assembled castle tent to inhabit as well as a popular toy set to make forts with.  It seemed that the time spent making original creations out of generic household "stuff" versus that of the pre-assembled toys was certainly disproportionate.  This mangled assemblage of furniture and linens on our living room floor was a castle.  It was a fort. It was a created place to interact with and experience.  It was a physical result of an idea that they had. I could not help but get down on my knees, shimmy myself through the main entrance and experience whatever I could of the miniature world my two little ones had created.  I peered out the window and felt a breeze on my face.  I listened to the faint noise of the cars outside muffled by the walls surrounding me.  Then, I laid down on my back, intently studied the intricate pattern on the fabric ceiling above me and wondered: what fosters development of the young creative mind more - imposed structure or uninhibited play? Needless to say, I was inspired.

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