The education architecture has always been the focus of LYCS Architecture since its establishment. In recent years, with the extraordinary booming development of China, Chinese parents’ ideas of education have changed dramatically and evolved into a new advanced level. Accordingly, in people’s mind, kindergartens designed by traditional methods seem to be more rigid and lack of imagination, and thus become unable to recognize and meet the contemporary educational needs. In this sense, how is it possible to design a kindergarten that breaks the traditional rules, eliminates obstacles to the all-round growth of children and allows children to encounter nature, friendship and knowledge anytime and anywhere?
▲ 项目视频 ©零壹城市
As the corresponding answer provided by LYCS Architecture, KINCANG Xinmeng International Kindergarten, with the whole construction area of 16,990 square meters, is located in Keqiao District, Shaoxing City, Zhejiang Province and includes 18 classes in total. With the integration of architecture and interior design by LYCS Architecture in accordance to the highest architectural standards of kindergarten in China, this project has been fully started at present.
In the view of the internationally recognized Italian educator Maria Montessori (1870-1952) who was best known for the philosophy of education that bears her name (“Montessori Theory”), children’s psychological development is neither the simple internal maturity, nor a direct product of environment and education, but the result of the positive interaction between children and environment, which is "sufficiently realized through the experience gained by children when exploring the environment".
Centered on the corresponding theme of "exploration", LYCS Architecture has proposed the design concept of "The Wizard of Oz", where six small beautiful houses, directly facing the river and encircling "the Super Central Park", are to be built on the two-storey tridimensional specific basement, which elaborately contribute to a "small village" "around a campfire".
"The Wizard of Oz" comes from the plentiful and colorful nature. Arranged precisely along the boundary of the site, this project exquisitely creates a small unique picturesque world full of lovely birds and beautiful flowers in the high-density old town. The courtyard space gradually extends upward to the second floor, forming a variety of grassy slopes and thus effectively enriching the landscape levels and finally constituting a large park-style landscape.
In general, compared with adults, children have a significantly different sense of scale and a natural fear of huge things. For this reason, the LYCS design team, taking the full advantage of the green slopes, has made the decision to divide the building into two levels in order to reduce the building volume sufficiently. As a continuous U-shaped structure, the ground floor enfolds the internal courtyard and hides itself below the grassy slopes. Above the grassy slopes, the architecture is divided into six small houses with different heights in a rhythm. Located on the green basement with a specific design, these houses are vaguely visible in the nature around the "bonfire", eliminating the architectural effects of alienation and estrangement and giving the children a warming sense of security and comfort in an enfolding way.
"The Wizard of Oz" comes from a variety of architectural space. On the first floor, the roof eaves extend down and form the undulant grassy slopes, along which children can run down or climb up. In addition, as a perfect place for playing hide-and-seek, the in-between space of the various grassy slopes wonderfully contributes to the close contact between children and nature.
Elaborately connected by corridors of different scales, the small houses present themselves as if "pulling up the hands", forming a cohesive and safe natural courtyard. At the same time, specifically decorated with gradient glasses in vivid color, the facades of the corridors produce the positive effects, enabling the children to have the enthusiastic visual impression and good memories.
By adopting the dual slope form of the roofs, these houses themselves, in terms of the external appearance, become much closer to those in the fairy tale world. The roofs open themselves upward through adopting the aluminum grid frame in an unusual way, and thus the resultant open top floor space becomes another significant playground for children to enjoy the free exploration. Children, while running joyfully on the top floor, might look down on the street from above and then gain another perspective to see the world.
"The Wizard of Oz" also stems from the thematic interior design. Children, when stepping into the main entrance of the kindergarten each morning, feel as if falling into the fantastic forest. What immediately comes into sight is the strikingly bright and multi-layered green color, the warm and large-scale wood color and the fine ceiling design echoing the natural landscape outside, which jointly enable children to look forward to going to school without any reluctance, fear, repulsion or even resistance.
Considering the busy daily routine of many parents that they drive children to school before going to work, the LYCS design term has also carefully designed the underground pick-up and drop-off streamline in order to eliminate the heavy noisy congestion at the school gate every day. The pick-up and drop-off vehicle entrance with a large sunken courtyard is both bright and comfortable, making elegant and ritual the process of picking up and dropping off children.
As the most significant site for children to communicate with each other, the cultural activity space consists of the swimming pool, the small theater, the family dining bar, the children’s picture book hall and the gymnasium for basketball and tennis, which are all together set on the active line on the first floor of the building like a dream cruise. The chamfering elements are carried out into every corner and detail on a complete scale, which softens the space atmosphere and thus provides the tender care for children.
Closely Combined with the key pedagogical idea of Xinmeng International Kindergarten, that is, "naturality and sociality of education come first", the function and design of the space for activities specifically pursue the harmonious and balanced all-round development of children. In addition to the significant "small-scale scenarized" design, each function is subtly matched with highly saturated colors from nature, giving children a vibrant initial "social" experience.
The teaching space is the core of the kindergarten, where children are able to make the free exploration into the future, learn about wisdom sufficiently and effectively, sit together to learn and communicate, and create a collective living atmosphere filled with the centripetal force. Meanwhile, the teaching space cleverly adopts the lowly saturated color to foil a stable learning atmosphere, and is divided into different grades. As a result, the children's annual growth looks like fighting against monsters step by step and level by level in computer games, and thus becomes full of sense of accomplishment, motivating the children to improve themselves.