Kindergarten is a necessary supporting facility in the process of housing development. Driven by the principle of maximizing the value of housing, most of the kindergartens can’t be separated from the double predicament of being squeezed by housing and restricted by the building norms; they’re finally presented in the compromising and negative spatial state. In an irregular land encircled by a typical villa area in Shanghai, Office Mass tries to break through the dual restriction of surrounding environment and norms through design strategies to create an ideal space in the city for children. The kindergarten looks like “∞” from aerial view, so it’s called ∞ kindergarten.
▼别墅区环绕的∞幼儿园，∞Kindergarten surrounded by villa area © 曼景建筑
盆景 – 异质介入 | Bonsai – heterogeneous intervention
At the initial stage of design, the architect faced the problem of how to respond to this passive site with a positive attitude——the decrease in land use efficiency caused by irregular terrain and the lack of independence brought by being too close to villa area. In the absence of interference with external conditions, the most positive attitude may be to recreate an ideal place, like a bonsai, which is clearly microscopic and partial, but it contains our expectation and imagination for the world. To give up too much echoing with the surrounding environment and intervene in a heterogeneous state, take the irregular site as the “pot” to create “landscape” on the irregular site.
▼都市盆景，urban bonsai © 苏圣亮
积木 – 聚散为整 | Building blocks – gather the scattered into a whole
As a bonsai of urban scale, it should be an idealized space, and the most important thing is to include “unusual” beyond “daily”. Unlike ordinary centralized kindergartens, architect decomposed the building which is nearly 6000 square meters into houses, corridors and courtyards. These spatial components, just like building blocks, form one “∞” through stacking in a loose order.
▼单元空间和剩余不规则空间形成一个“∞”，unit space and leftover irregular space together form one “∞” © 苏圣亮
Houses——rectangular units with cluster layout, are classrooms. The house unit with diagonal sloping roof unifies the two classes at the first and second floor into one mass, this kind of sloping roof can also echo with the surrounding villa roof in a more relaxed manner. The staggered square window openings, designed in three sizes, contain two low windows that match the children’s size, and small high window used for air convection and bathroom ventilation and lighting. The window frame is made of lemon green coloured aluminum alloy, matching with the same color coating on the wall around these window openings, jumping scene frame is painted on the gray background.
▼布满环形路径的活动场地，playground full of circle paths © 苏圣亮
▼房子、廊子和院子，house, corridor and courtyard © 苏圣亮
▼矩形房子单元，rectangular classroom unit © 苏圣亮
The corridor connects the scattered houses in series and accommodates kindergarten’s service space except the classes: the morning check room, the health care room, music, arts, LEGO, life and science classrooms, as well as the offices and the serving rooms; the circular corridor also accommodates the transportation system linking to the scattered classes. The architect deliberately widened the circular corridor and integrated it with the outdoor space to make it a space for children to stay, meet and play.
▼空中植物辨识园，plant identification garden on rooftop © 苏圣亮
▼连廊，corridor © 苏圣亮
The circular corridor and houses split the site into four different styles of courtyards——open outer courtyard, tortuous east and west inner courtyards, roof garden and tree yard under big trees, where children are free to do exercises, play, plant and climb.
▼西内院，west courtyard © 苏圣亮
▼东内院，east courtyard © 苏圣亮
▼连接两个内院的通道，channel connecting two courtyards © 苏圣亮
Kindergarten is the most space for children to stay except their own home. What children need is not just a house and playground, but a transition from home to the outside world and a space container for their childishness and fun. Nine houses, two layers of corridors, and four types of courtyards; in this irregular site, a variety of vague possibilities are created in a scattered, embedded and enclosed way, waiting for children to define them with their own ideas.
▼交通空间，circulation © 苏圣亮
方法 – 设险求稳 | Method – stability from risk
The irregular site of the kindergarten, the architect’s original intention of making it into a 1:1 building block and the idea of reducing the building from three floors to two floors for main structure and three floors for part of it so as to reduce the sense of pressure all cause that it will be a mission impossible through conventional spatial layout: the increase of building plan makes it hard to meet the requirements on greening area and activity space area; the irregular shape of the surrounding site is not conducive to the division of activity space by classes. The answer given by the architect is to use a floating classroom unit to make space for outdoor activity; the second-floor circular corridor forms stepped terrace as the hanging garden to increase the green area; a circular motif is used in the site with small margin to pave and form the activity space by classes, apparatus activity space, sand pool and runway, etc. The boundary of tangent ring naturally forms the circular washing basin into the garden, circular landscape path and the boundary of activity space. Simple and unified form operation brings about the least difference between functions and the possibility of mutual transformation. The unity of form weakens the position of form in design, so as to ensure that it has more compatible linkup with irregular terrain.
▼房子之间的树院，tree courtyard among the houses © 苏圣亮
For the operation of interior space, the architect maintained the regular plan of class but twisted the direction according to the site so as to meet the requirements of sunshine and the playground. It seems difficult to use the irregular residual space left by the circular corridor minus rectangular classroom; in fact, this irregularity of this kind of space makes the children more free and diverse to use the space. The architect used this point to develop the potential of each irregular space through integrated design of interior and landscape, and make the whole building a super toy.
▼矩形班级单元内部，interior of rectangular classroom © 苏圣亮
▼等候区，waiting area © 苏圣亮
▼生活教室，living room © 苏圣亮
▼绘画教室，painting room © 苏圣亮
▼建构教室，LEGO room © 苏圣亮
The design of ∞ kindergarten is based on the challenge to the present situation and guided by the concept of space. In the design process, the spatial layout is formed through the iteration and optimization according to the norms. The design process itself is also like a game, which continues iterated operation through specific rules under clear objectives. The final space is not an instantaneous inspiration, but a transient state solidified in a series of related spatial operations.
▼入口上方的植物辨识园，plant identification garden above the entrance © 曼景建筑
▼幼儿园入口夜景，night view of the entrance © 苏圣亮
▼房子的聚落，cluster of houses © 苏圣亮
▼手绘图 – 超级玩具，sketch – super toy
▼矩形班级单元+剩余不规则空间，rectangular classroom units and leftover irregular space
▼首层平面图，plan level 1
▼2层平面图，plan level 2
▼一层廊子公共空间，common area on first floor corridor
设计团队：吴海龙 赵林 李三见 陈柳均 唐程颖 苗梦娜 程孟雅 郭思博 卫韡 苗梦娜 李诗慧 毛广知
结构：何利 宋泽维 郭伟宾
暖通：陈翠悟 孙刚 黄晓康
Project Name : Shanghai Golden Rose Kindergarten
Location: Xuefu Road, Longhao Road, Jinshan District, Shanghai
Site Area: 8375㎡
Gross Floor Area: 5899㎡
Partner in Charge: Wu Hailong
Photography: Su Shengliang (unless annotated)
Building scheme design: Office Mass
Interior design and construction drawing design: Office Mass
Landscape design and construction drawing design: Office Mass
Design team: Wu Hailong吴海龙 Zhao Lin赵林 Li Sanjian李三见 Chen Liujun陈柳均 Tang Chengyin唐程颖 Miao Mengna苗梦娜 Cheng Mengya程孟雅 Guo Sibo郭思博 Wei Wei卫韡 苗梦娜 Li Shihui李诗慧 Mao Guangzhi毛广知
construction drawing: UDG
Architecture: Yu Bin俞斌 Xu Zhijie徐之杰
Structure: He Li何利 Song Zewei宋泽维 Guo Weibin郭伟宾
HVAC: Chen Cuiwu陈翠悟 Sun Gang孙刚 Huang Xiaokang黄晓康
Electric: Chen Zhiyuan陈志远 Yang Zongjun杨宗俊
Water supply and drainage: Kong Linglan孔令兰 Hu Longshun胡龙顺
BIM: Cheng Mengya程孟雅 Shua Liyu帅立钰