The Children’s Scale in Finnish Kindergarten Interiors from 1920s to 1980s


  • Taina Sillanpää Kindergarten Museum and Ebeneser Foundation



spatiality, Finnish kindergarten history, children’s scale, thirdspace, Edward Soja


The purpose of this article is to offer a perspective on spatial history in Finnish kindergartens’ surroundings, especially through design that emphasizes children’s scale. The timeline of the article is from the 1920s, when the vocative kindergarten teachers took responsibility for kindergarten design, till the 1980s, when professionals designed kindergartens. The article focuses on the vertical level, which defines the height of children’s activity and how the idea of children’s scale affected interior design during the timeline. One theoretical starting point is Edward Soja’s concept of Thirdspace, which is applied to combine experiential narratives related to childhood, contemporary materials about conversations that took place at the studied time, and spatial regulations and design related to ideological, political, and cultural structures. From the 1920s to the 1980s, children’s scale is highlighted and linked to homelike surroundings with miniaturization in scale to affordances concerning a human body scale, dimensions, and children’s agency. In 1970s, due to the emerge of the Day Care Act, children’s scale extended more broadly to the environment and children’s dimensions than in the kindergarten era.

Author Biography

Taina Sillanpää, Kindergarten Museum and Ebeneser Foundation

Museum Director and Executive Director