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Bricks • Mortar • Imagination • Words

Introduction

The Building

Look at what children can do with wooden bricks and you realise how much simpler building can be when it's executed without the self-conscious artfulness of adult sensibilities. The world of architecture is, according to children, a land of the ever possible, a place where abstract shapes are charged with ornate specifications that only the mind's eye can see. How grown up architects must envy the economy with which the child imagination can conjure up castles, caves and concrete utopias from simple cubes, cones and columns. The Story Museum is, as yet, just a story in the making, a plan to build a museum to story telling for children in Oxford, the capital of academe, a place where conjecture and fantasy are usually firmly corralled within the rectilinear pigeonholes of fact and analysis. There have been many cities built by children's imaginations - places where play and solemn ritual are inextricably entwined - but the task of realising the dreams of adult enthusiasts and practitioners of children's literature will, one suspects, be a great deal more difficult. The public mood, though, for museums or 'experiences' in which the world of children's books is scaled up and made three-dimensional is surely increasing. But it's all in the way in which it's done, of course, and while the new Roald Dahl museum, in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire is a great start in the right direction, there are many other children's worlds to explore. So this is a museum without a site and without a design as yet but this isn't to say that its architecture isn't already fully forming in the minds of many people, adults and children alike.

 
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