For decades now, nursery schools around the world have shared many features designed to encourage creative thinking in children. Brightly colored walls and decor, oversized letters and numbers on the walls, geometric puzzles, building blocks scattered across the floor — all of these things stimulate young minds to wonder, explore, grow, learn, and produce work that is truly original.

The exterior of the new Ora nursery school in Dubai. The curving all-white interiors of the new Ora nursery school. One of the communal play areas featured in the new Ora nursery school.

Roar (formerly known as Pallavi Dean Interiors) has a completely different concept of childhood development. Officially called Ora, the Nursery of the Future, the firm’s newest Dubai project eliminates those old primary colors and giant letters in favor of an entirely modern aesthetic, imagining both how and what kids could learn in a freeform environment that promotes imagination and creativity.

A Blank Canvas Encourages Ingenuity

The curving all-white interiors of the new Ora nursery school.

Instead of displaying the conventional bright colors, this nursery’s interior is decidedly more cloud-like. The illusion of the white, curved space imitating a “gentle, protective cloud” was created in collaboration with the local AR. Gallery. This look is based on research that indicates neutral color schemes and soft angles push children and educators to be their own sources of motivation rather than having to draw inspiration from their surroundings. Instead of interacting with colorful walls and furnishings, children can touch these walls and floors to activate lighted displays of nature-based images and artworks that they drew themselves.

No Kids Left Behind

One of the inventive children's restrooms featured inside the new Ora nursery school. One of the communal play areas featured in the new Ora nursery school. An outdoor play area featured in the new Ora nursery school, with a small rock-climbing wall visible in the foreground.

Serving children between the ages of two months and three years, Ora’s educational approach is completely different from that of traditional nursery schools. The facility boasts 22 interaction sectors to stimulate growth and learning at each stage of childhood development, including:

  • Feeding pods
  • Weaning rooms
  • Rest areas
  • Smart sleeping pods
  • An English-Arabic library, which includes a number of books written by the nursery’s founders
  • Reading pods that aid imagination
  • Mindfulness corners
  • A creative soft-play area with a dedicated monochrome space
  • A mini-ball pit
  • A sand pit
  • A supervised splash pad
  • A low rock-climbing wall
  • A sensory garden
  • An outdoor track

Ora has also been equipped with a future-conscious Mars Lab. Inspired by United Arab Emirates’ Mars space program, this lab is a communal space where teachers, kids, and parents can all congregate. It contains a library, “reading cloud” (a huge inflatable pillow where one can curl up with a book), “Sky House” inspired by traditional tree houses, and a mini “Coding Hub” where children are introduced to the basics of computer programming.

A New Nursery School Experience

One of the communal play areas featured in the new Ora nursery school, with a small library and pod visible in the background.

Ora’s philosophy is built on four major pillars: Leadership, Happiness & Positivity, Advanced Sciences & Artificial Intelligence, and Technology & Coding. Roar worked hard to incorporate all of these values into the nursery school’s design.

Pallavi Dean, Founder and Creative Director of Roar, explains: “The biggest challenge facing education designers is that we’re preparing children for jobs that don’t yet exist. So, we designed a space where children would not just learn specific skills such as math [sic] and reading but would fall in love with learning itself. That meant designing a learning experience that’s playful, stimulating, and social. Learning by doing is so much more powerful than a conventional lecture-style set up.”

If all goes according to plan, this could very well be one educational “roar” that’s heard all around the world.