Habitat was inspired by the urgent need to address climate change and its impact on ecosystems. The designers were motivated by the melting of arctic glaciers and over-deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, which highlight the seriousness of ecological damage caused by human activities. By allowing children to learn and understand the effects of climate change from an early age, Habitat aims to develop their environmental concerns and habits.
What sets Habitat apart is its unique use of materials and design. The toy bricks are made of Spanish cork bark, ensuring that no trees were chopped down for production. This sustainable choice not only reduces environmental impact but also makes the bricks antistatic, preventing dust from adhering and protecting children from asthma and allergies. The bricks are designed in gradients of shape and colors, creating an open-ended and stackable toy that resembles natural habitats.
The realization of Habitat involves laser cutting and manual coloring of cork wood and paper. The surface treatment retains the cork's natural texture by using latex paint for coloring. The dimensions of the bricks vary, with sizes ranging from 30 cm x 23 cm x 3 cm to 7 cm x 3 cm x 3 cm for the glacier scenario, and from 20 cm x 11 cm x 5 cm to 4 cm x 2.5 cm x 3 cm for the forest scenario. The playground map measures 42 cm x 59.4 cm, while the flash cards are 29.7 cm x 42 cm in size.
Interaction with Habitat involves problem-solving and ecological restoration. Children are encouraged to identify environmental issues and assemble the components to restore the habitat. By providing conceptual guidance and practical implementation, Habitat enables children to develop a deeper understanding of climate change and its impact on ecosystems.
The project began in August 2022 and was completed in Tainan, Taiwan, in March 2023. Extensive research was conducted, including the analysis of climate change-related data, market analysis of toys for children aged 3-6, and interviews with early childhood teachers. The design team utilized various tools such as Rhinoceros 3D, Solidworks, Adobe Illustrator, and Procreate to bring their vision to life.
Habitat has received recognition for its innovative design and contribution to climate education. It was awarded the Bronze A' Design Award in the Toys, Games, and Hobby Products Design category in 2023. This prestigious award honors designs that exhibit strong technical and creative skills while contributing to quality of life improvements. Habitat's incorporation of best practices in art, science, design, and technology makes it a valuable tool for educating children and creating a better world.
With Habitat, Jia Xin, Wei Chi, and Yu Chieh have created a unique and impactful educational toy brick that not only entertains but also fosters environmental awareness and action. By inspiring children to become stewards of the planet from an early age, Habitat plays a vital role in shaping a sustainable future.
Project Designers: ChungSheng Chen
Image Credits: Image#1~#5: JiaXin Lin, WeiChi Hsieh, YuChieh Wang, WeiCheng Wang, 2023.
Project Team Members: Instructor: ChungSheng Chen Designer: JiaXin Lin Designer: WeiChi Hsieh Designer: YuChieh Wang Designer: WeiCheng Wang Tainan University of Technology Product Design Dept.
Project Name: Habitat
Project Client: ChungSheng Chen