The Paradise of Color
No.12 Middle School is one of the best schools in Beijing. There is a strong need from the neighborhood to have the School incorporate kindergarten education in their curriculum. The kindergarten of the school strives for building the best school of the neighborhood, and the architecture of it reflects its ambition. On top of that, the architecture aims for shaping a unique character for the school while enlivening the area of the city.
This is a rehabilitation project. The structure sits at the expanding area of the city. Surrounded by residential blocks, the site is in need for human scale culture facilities. The architecture design tries to create a pure and simple paradise with memorable spaces for children. The kindergarten is composed by clean lines and shapes of primary colors. By looking through the lens of a child, the purity of childhood is well preserved in the architecture.
Our project begins with converting the scale from a grown-up to a child. We use building blocks as the inspiration, by incorporating the openings of the original building, we create large color blocks that pop-up from the facade as gigantic building blocks for the neighborhood. The simple color block stands out from the vernacular housing construction and creates a dialogue with the children of the neighborhood.
Our use of primary color starts with the understanding of perception in a child. As the vision of a child starts to mature gradually after six, children’s understanding of color is not as completed as the grown-ups. So we use a variety of colors in the elevation as well as the interior and exterior environment to stimulate the senses of children and encourage them to explore the spaces and shapes. Thus their role play in the space would be more memorable. We use blue for the nursery, green for toddler and orange for preschool kids, with different emphasis on keeping them calm or making them more activated.
By combining the brilliant colors, we also try to bring some vividness to the city of Beijing—the city de-saturated by winter smog. In perspective, the architecture creates a surreal image of 2-D cookie cutter in the concrete forest of the modern city. The two sides of the pop-up volumes are lighting panels. The lighting design makes the pure color block looks richer at night. It turns the architecture into a gigantic modern art of light and color.
Architects: Atelier Alter
Location: Beijing, China
Chief Designers: Xiaojun Bu, Yingfan Zhang
Design Team: Xiaojun Bu, Yingfan Zhang, Dehu Du, Zhenwei Li
Client: Beijing No.12 Kindergarten
Area: 4200.0 m2
Photographs: Courtesy of Atelier Alter