Jiangsu Shuoji Kindergarten, China by Crossboundaries

It takes a kindergarten to wake up a community

Project Specs


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Appreciation towards Crossboundaries for providing the following description:

有句谚语大家都不陌生:It takes a village to raise a child(养育一个孩子需要整个村庄)。它既指举全社区之力抚养孩子的社会习俗,也强调要让儿童广泛接触社会、接受更加活泼真实的生活教育。然而在今天的中国乡镇,儿童留守或长期寄宿在校的现象日益普遍,孩子与家庭、社区和社会的亲密联结,常常被集中化的管理割裂开来。

“It takes a village to raise a child!” – An African proverb that underpins the value of a community being engaged in a child’s upbringing. The diversity of people and places that create it, offering them experiences to grow in safe and healthy environments. However, today in China’s rural areas, more and more children are in the primary care of their grandparents or live in boarding schools. This mass shift in social structure has dissolved some the natural connection between children and their families and communities.

▼鸟瞰图,aerial view ©吴清山



Crossboundaries designed two public kindergartens, commissioned in 2015 by the Fu’ning County Government of Jiangsu Province, who were developing basic local education facilities. One of which was in the jurisdiction of the Shuoji community.

Visiting Shuoji, the imbalance in demographic was evident, stressing the need to bring a balance to the family nucleus living apart. It was this experience that brought the strong recognition from the design team that what was needed here was not just a kindergarten building, but a facility that delivers child-centered spaces that are anchored in the values of a “village”, the responsibility of family, community and society to offer the richest concern on raising a child.

▼田间视野,view from the farmland ©郝洪漪


Shaping a protected space


▼外形回应场地,a site-specific form ©Crossboundaries

▼设计示意图,diagram ©Crossboundaries

Shuoji kindergarten is located within the core of ​​the thriving county town, densely occupied by commercial businesses, institutions, production facilities and characterized by drive through traffic. Acknowledging this compact surrounding, Crossboundaries designed a group of independent multi-story buildings, which create a relatively enclosed and protected space in the center for children to play and learn.

▼以多层建筑三面围合出一个内向空间,a group of independent multi-story buildings with a relatively enclosed and protected space in the center ©吴清山

▼建筑外观,exterior view ©郝洪漪


The architectural form imitates the local village dwellings around it and at the same time stands out with its simplified volumes. The buildings façades consist of two main materials, the locally produced grey bricks on surfaces oriented towards the center of the site and its inner courtyards in combination with contrasting white plaster, to the outer sides. The geometric white planes stand out in the chaotic village and make the buildings identifiable in the environment and easily recognizable for all the community. Different window sizes and heights form a rich and transparent inside and outside relationship and filter in bountiful natural lighting.

▼操场视角,view from the playground ©吴清山

▼建筑风格和当地民居呼应,the architectural form imitates the local village dwellings ©吴清山

▼内庭墙面使用青砖砌成,外墙是白色灰泥,grey bricks on inner surfaces with white plaster to the outer sides ©刘敏玲


Rebuild the learning space


Our design from the outside standing as a symbol reminding that the future success of the “village” is a collective effort, and focused on the inside from the perspective of children as the primary user. It is well understood that children learn by doing and in the case of preschool children this means learning through a lot of play. This became the starting-point of our design of the kindergarten’s inner world.

▼在户外奔跑的孩子们,kids running on the outdoor terrace ©吴清山


Each building in the group houses a self-contained community for smaller groups of children. Deliberately the primary circulation connecting each “house” is displaced into the shared outdoor play area increasing the opportunity for social intimacy and exploration.

▼大部分交通空间位于共享的大院,the circulation is arranged in the shared central yard ©刘敏玲

▼二层平台,the upper level  ©郝洪漪


Throughout this central shielded outdoor environment the arrangement of buildings and yards entices inquisitive exploration and free play and is heightened by experiences of climbing to higher levels upstairs that are arranged in different directions, weaving through the contracting and expanding spaces between the buildings, making visual connections and multiple options for circulation.

▼立体的双层户外活动场,a double-height outdoor space for activities ©吴清山

▼户外楼梯,outdoor stair ©吴清山

▼在二层平台玩耍的孩子,kid playing on the upper floor ©吴清山


The complexity of this inner courtyard arrangement attracts and motivates children to explore the surroundings with their natural curiosity and it encourages them to create games, help them feel intimate and connected with people and ease their loneliness, in a micro village modeling the real world beyond. Accumulating social skills, and exercising their spatial logic and sense of orientation, it supports the development of skills needed to navigate environments and social engagement in future life.

▼吸引孩子们展开探索的空间,a place for children to explore ©刘敏玲


What can architects do for education equality?


Whether it be an urban or rural area, the goal of education should always be to enable students to develop themselves and form independent personalities, in order to make meaningful choices for themselves in futures that are currently still unpredictable. Through our designs, as architects, we can introduce child-centered educational ideas that mediate with communities’ needs for cohesiveness to be able to serve as a “village”. This should become a universal approach of educators and those affiliated with the environments for education, rather than some luxury approach only available in first tier cities.

▼建筑近景,a close view to the building ©刘敏玲

▼轴测图,axon ©Crossboundaries

▼一层平面图,plan level 1 ©Crossboundaries

▼二层平面图,plan level 2 ©Crossboundaries

▼三层平面图,plan level 3 ©Crossboundaries

▼立面图,elevations ©Crossboundaries

总建筑面积:3141 平方米
设计方:Crossboundaries, 北京
合伙人:Binke Lenhardt(蓝冰可), 董灏
设计团队:Tracey Loontjens ,Alan Chou(周业伦),Andra Ciocoiu,郝洪漪

Location: Shuoji Community, Fu’ning County, Jiangsu, China
Client: Education Bureau of Fu’ning county, Jiangsu
Total Architecture Area: 3141 sqm
Number of students: 300
Design period: December 2015 – September 2016
Construction period: April 2017 – August 2018
Completed: August 2018
Architect: Crossboundaries, Beijing
Partners in charge: Binke Lenhardt, DONG Hao
Design Team: Tracey Loontjens, Alan Chou, Andra Ciocoiu, HAO Hongyi
Photographers: WU Qingshan, HAO Hongyi, Mini LIU

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