The Paternal Urban Base

Title: The Paternal Urban Base

Author: Joe McKibben

Year: 2018

Abstract: The Paternal Urban Base is a childcare centre aimed at fathers that focuses on play and risk, providing a platform for men to take on primary care roles in a drive for a more gender equal society.

Patriarchal views of maternal and paternal relations have historically hindered men from taking on more active childcare roles. Combined with the loss of Working Men’s Clubs as bastions of family life, there is a notable absence of neighbourhood assembly.

The P.U.B is located in the Burngreave ward which possesses the highest frequency of dependent children, self-employed workers, and the lowest average life expectancy in Sheffield. The site occupies a former sandstone quarry that sits in a prominent position between the local community and the city. The societal and immediate context in turn generated a design brief to nurture symbiotic relationships to create a meaningful culture of caring.

The proposition combined a nursery school to support and nurture child development, startup offices that support self-employed workers who are under the most pressure to neglect child care responsibilities, and a community centre that responds to the loss of assembly. The three programs revolve around a learning landscape that carves and reveals the quarry stone beneath in areas of collectivity and leisure.

The landscape translated the educational theory of scaffolding into an architectural language that encourages children to thrive within a ‘comfortable struggle’, intrinsically motivating parents and children to play through active climbing. Play and risk are therefore at the heart of the exchanges of enterprise and education where the cycles of child development are celebrated and the thresholds between carers and workers blurred.

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