WAY Studio creates a casual and nature inspired learning environment for their latest project, MTG Learning Center. In the eyes of children, nothing is yet set in stone, including the definition of our surroundings — walls don’t always have to stand straight, nor hit the ceiling, floors can be uneven, it is exactly this type of instability or uncertainty that we would like to recreate in order for children to learn through exploration, to define “space” as their own — just like in the forest.
▼空间概览，overall view of the space ©Fernie Lai
MTG Learning Center is located in Beijing, it is a transformation from an antique market to an education center. WAY was invited to renovate and design the public space on the ground floor and propose a new plan for the second floor. The overall area of this project is approx. 5,700 square meters. There are 6 multi-functional classrooms, a wood carpenter workshop and a gymnastic classroom. The whole plan is free and open, whilst meeting the educational and recreational needs, it could also be used for dinning, lectures, and workshops.
▼轴测图，axonometric ©WAY Studio
From Old Retail Space to Learning Center
▼探索楼梯，设有不同的装置，feature staircase with various installations ©WAY Studio
In metropolitan cities, there has been a shift towards renovation rather than new construction, and from permanent function to spatial flexibility. The architects often face the challenge of accommodating the increasing needs for open, flexible, and multi-functional spaces within the framework of existing buildings.
The building selected to house the MTG Learning center was originally an old retail space with low ceiling. Facing to north, the lighting condition is also unsatisfying. WAY’s design ensures adequate natural lighting, ventilation and air quality through a semi-open spatial layout, flexible furniture units and diverse lighting systems.
The original staircase connecting the first and second floor is transformed into a feature staircase. In order to satisfy safety concerns of an open staircase, instead of putting up huge railing walls and safety nets throughout, WAY decided to fill it up completely with playful elements instead. A scuba mirror to reflect activities on different floors, display cases reserved for children creations, and voice pipes that penetrates the stair floor allowing children on different floors to speak to each other through this installation.
▼楼梯，在两层空间中形成视觉连接，staircase creating visual connecting between the two floors ©Fernie Lai
▼模块化家具的不同组合，different combination of the modular funiture ©WAY Studio
The spatial layout of MTG Learning Center is inspired by “puzzle” to create a free and flowing plan. Staggering spaces conforms to the pre-existing plan outline, which reduce the length of long narrow hallways. Floor to ceiling walls minimize noise between classrooms, whilst low walls between hallways and classrooms blur the boundary between the public and learning spaces. Furniture can also be reconfigured according to needs, and each set of furniture is supplemented by platform or wall space displaying works created by children.
Diverse wall heights meet the needs of both children and adults. It allows children to feel secure in an enclosed space, while views open up at higher level for adults. Cushioned walls and flooring as well as a louvered ceiling system ensure proper acoustic environment. Curtains were also installed to supplement potential classroom divisions, which further reduce noise and provide different lighting conditions.
▼教室，class room ©Fernie Lai
In the classrooms, furniture is used as walls for reorganizing spaces for different activities. The light in the classrooms resemble three teeth with adjustable brightness for day, night and cleaning modes.
closer view to the lightings in the classroom ©Fernie Lai
蜜糖国儿童成长中心采用的瑞吉欧方法（Reggio Emilia approach）在空间设计中得到了贯彻和体现。瑞吉欧认为物理空间可以扮演“教师”的角色，环境是建立关系、语言能力和讨论能力的重要工具，强调孩子们在社群中体验和学习的重要性。蜜糖国儿童成长中心的设计围绕着孩子与孩子、家长与孩子之间的关系预留了充分的公共空间，大人与儿童的尺度交错，让两个群体都可以舒适地在空间中进行互动。
The MTG Learning Center adopts the Reggio Emilia approach, which considers the psychical space as an invisible “teacher”, as the environment could stimulate social interactions, create sense of community and contributes to the cultivation of communication skills. MTG Learning Center provides adequate public spaces for children and adults, ensuring a comfortable place for these two groups to communicate and interact.
▼橙色休息区，orange sofa area ©Fernie Lai
The second floor is the main space for educational activities, and the open space in the center becomes an open plaza for kids to explore. The light installation design is inspired by trees. With layered acrylic panels, three light installations naturally create gray spaces in the public areas, which attracts the users to stay and gather around.
▼木工教室，carpentry classroom ©Fernie Lai
▼灯饰细节，details of the lighting ©Fernie Lai
Colors of Nature
The whole space is filled with brilliant colors and playful details. Orange, green and red are applied to create an energetic atmosphere, which also differentiates different functions. The bathroom has an umbrella-like structure, which is in vivid red color with theatrical effect. Spaces are also reserved at the entrance and hallways for displaying the children’s artworks.
▼色彩丰富的空间，space with vivid colors ©Fernie Lai
The first floor is covered with flowing curvy surfaces, where layers of set-back seating provide a tranquil transition from the hustling city life outside to the imaginative space inside.
▼阶梯座椅形成适宜互动的环境，stepped seatings creating space for communication ©Fernie Lai
washroom ©Fernie Lai
“We want to create a space of unknown that allows the children to explore and experience by themselves.” MTG Learning Center provides an inspirational space for children’s growth and also ensures adequate communication between the children and the parents.
▼首层平面图，first floor plan ©WAY Studio
▼二层平面图，second floor plan ©WAY Studio
▼剖面图，section ©WAY Studio
材料商：墙体及家具软包 – Kvadrat，地面铺装 – Forbo
Function: Children Entertainment and Education
Client: MTG Learning Center
Location: Beijing, P.R. China
Design Team: Zheng Tao, Fernie Lai, Alan Hung, Mark Wang, Cassie Zheng, Zhang ZeQun, Li XuDong, He JingYang
Lighting Design: J Studio
Photography: Fernie Lai
Materials: Wall Finishes & Furniture – Kvadrat, Floor Finishes – Forbo