On the initiative of the local government facing shortage of preschool education in rural area, Crossboundaries was commissioned in 2015 to design a kindergarten for the Beisha Village in Fu’ning County, Jiangsu, the first province in China that has accelerated the development of high-quality preschool education throughout urban and rural areas.
▼幼儿园呼应了江苏平原乡村的原生肌理，the kindergarten echoes the texture of the plain countryside in Jiangsu Province ©Wu Qingshan 吴清山
Fu’ning County has been well-known for its tradition of advocating education, culture and morality. Located in-between the North plain and the central water network in Jiangsu Province, the county’s seasonal dynamics of agricultural produce still takes up most of space and dominates as an activity and as a way of making a living, putting dwellings and all built environment in the background.
▼农田环境之中的幼儿园，kindergarten in the agricultural filed ©Wu Qingshan 吴清山(1); ©Hao Hongyi 郝洪漪(2)
Approaching to Beisha, you would be greeted by the endless fertile plain, its horizon deluded by the mist and just occasionally interrupted by the linearly arranged trees and houses. This is how most of rural Jiangsu is: flat, boundless landscape, as infinite as the skies above it. Once you arrive in the village, the feeling of overwhelming flatness somewhat disintegrates, the skies and soil become just a background collage, sliced in pieces by the tall trees that now dominate the scenery. Approaching the buildings through this natural colonnade feels like a discovery, a special framework that works well with the small, 2-3 stories houses with pitched roofs and brick facades. And it is exactly this setting, the zoomed-in rural landscape of the Jiangsu flatland that the kindergarten designed by Crossboundaries grew from and ultimately belong to.
▼列车窗外典型的江苏乡村肌理，typical context of Jiangsu rural area outside the train window ©Hao Hongyi 郝洪漪
Appropriate scale of the project was a crucial starting point of this design and led us in creating a building cluster for Beisha, with required building volume broken down to house-like pieces, integrated by the central multifunctional open space. This integration of the outdoor and indoor is crucial to the early education environment and innate to the rural context.
▼用若干“小屋式”结构分解总建筑体量，the building volume is broken down to house-like pieces ©Hao Hongyi 郝洪漪
▼设计塑造儿童与自然亲密接触的空间，the design creates a close relationship between children and nature ©Wu Qingshan 吴清山
In contrast, a typical school form, a courtyard enclosed by the prismatic volumes and repetitive façade that blocks off the surrounding and limits the view, with its protective, city logic would be a foreign object in this setting, an intruder in existing context, a symbol of inserted institutional architecture, rather than a place where the children would feel familiar and free, and identify it as their second home. And second home is exactly what the kindergarten for many of these children is, in quite literal sense considering that many young parents of rural area seasonally migrate to big cities for work and miss out on big periods of their children growing up.
▼建筑成为令孩子们感到熟稔、自在和温暖的“第二家园” ，the building becomes a place where the children would feel familiar and free, and identify it as their second home ©Mini Liu 刘敏玲(1); ©Wu Qingshan 吴清山(2)
This Beisha kindergarten functions as a smaller, slightly modified version of village, of which the scale gives the children a sense of familiarity and the interesting building relationships introduce novelty and encourage curiosity. Entering into the gate, children would first discover the main central space and the overall “settlement” surrounded by the trees and then, as they meander in between the “houses” they discover small, secret places tucked away from the main square, perfect for outdoor learning activities and playing Hide-and-Seek, just like what they always do in the villages.
▼房前屋后到处都可以学知识或捉迷藏，就像在村里一样，spaces outside the building are perfect for outdoor learning activities and playing Hide-and-Seek, just like what they always do in the villages ©Wu Qingshan 吴清山
▼幼儿园不仅是孩子的乐土，也成为村民喜欢的社交场所，this kindergartens is not only children’s paradise, but also villagers’ favorite social places ©Hao Hongyi 郝洪漪
探索之乐|FUN OF EXPLORATION
▼组团空间概念，group space concept
The materials used for facades are locally available recycled bricks combined with white plaster, creating different faces of each “house”. The window placement on the ground floor, with several square windows of the houses facing each other, establish the visual connection between the buildings through the yards, constantly reframing the views and integrating activities and connecting inside with outside.
▼立面材料选用了本地随处可得的老青砖和白色灰泥，每栋“小屋”的面貌都不尽相同，the materials used for facades are locally available recycled bricks combined with white plaster, creating different faces of each “house” ©Hao Hongyi 郝洪漪
▼每栋“小屋”底层开设了多处相互对望的方窗，形成通透、有趣的室内外关系，the window placement on the ground floor, with several square windows of the houses facing each other, establish the visual connection and interesting inside-outside relationship ©Mini Liu 刘敏玲
▼起伏的屋顶如置身山谷，让孩子们换一个角度去观察周围，endless roof seems like a mountain gorge and enables the children to see their surrounding in a different perspective ©Wu Qingshan 吴清山
▼起伏的坡屋顶，endless roof ©Hao Hongyi 郝洪漪
▼屋脊层叠，stacked ridge ©Hao Hongyi 郝洪漪
In Beisha kindergarten, the second floor pathways are not just connections between areas, they are also combined together into a platform of explorations for children. Once you are up on the second floor platform your experience is suddenly overtaken by the dynamic slopes of the roofs. The endless plain suddenly feels like a mountain gorge and the treetops are within a hand’s reach. This little shift of perspective enables the children to see their surrounding in a different frame and expand their everyday spatial experience.
▼室内空间，interior space ©Wu Qingshan 吴清山
Since its completion in 2018, the kindergarten became not only a pleasure land for children but an easy gathering place of their communities. Parents and grandparents tend to chat and share more time during sending and picking up their children.
▼晚霞掩映下的幼儿园， kindergarten under sunset glow ©Wu Qingshan 吴清山
▼夜景，night view ©Mini Liu 刘敏玲(1); ©Wu Qingshan 吴清山(2)
▼一层平面图，first floor plan
▼二层平面图，second floor plan
项目负责人: 蓝冰可（Binke Lenhardt），董灏
设计团队：Tracey Loontjens，Alan Chou（周业伦），Andra Ciocoiu，郝洪漪
Project name: Jiangsu Beisha kindergarten
Design: Crossboundaries, Beijing
Contact e-mail: media@Crossboundaries.com
Design period: December 2015 – September 2016
Completed: August 2018
Partners in charge: Binke Lenhardt, DONG Hao
Design Team: Tracey Loontjens, Alan Chou, Andra Ciocoiu, HAO Hongyi
Project location: Beisha Village, Fu’ning County, Jiangsu, China
Gross Built Area: 2,815.4 sqm
Photo: WU Qingshan, HAO Hongyi, Mini LIU
Clients: Education bureau of Fu’ning county, jiangsu