Family Box / Crossboundaries Architects

  • 31 Jul 2013
  • Educational Selected Works
© Chaoying Yang

Architects: Crossboundaries Architects
Location: Beijing,
Collaborating Architects & Engineers: BIAD International Studio & BIAD TSH International Studio
Client: Children Enterprise (UK) Limited
Area: 2,300 sqm
Year: 2011
Photographs: Chaoying Yang

From the architect. “We have learned that to raise a happy, healthy and hopeful child, it takes a family, it takes teachers, it takes clergy, it takes business people, it takes community leaders, it takes those who protect our health and safety, it takes all of us. Yes, it takes a village to raise a child.”  – Hillary Clinton 

Facade Pattern

Family Box functions both as an indoor playground and a kindergarten for children up to twelve years old, while accomodating their parents’ needs. It hosts different kinds of activities – from swimming, playing games to various classes ranging from music, dancing, crafting to cooking. Furthermore, it has a big play area, a reading area and a generous café area. Located at the outer corner of a park it is placed in a natural environment, which enhances the visibility of the building. 

© Chaoying Yang

The different size and height between adult and child and their different angle of view was the starting point for considering Family Box should be made by two types of spaces: a kids-scale space and an adult-scale space. How to find an inspiring balance between them? How to combine the different needs? 

Plan Phase 1 & 2

Despite the complex program another challenging part of this project was to deal with an existing structural system, column grid and also the building footprint – due to a different original function of the building and the involvement of another design institute in an earlier project stage. The rigid concrete structure of the building did not seem the most suitable for the design purpose, that was counterbalanced in different ways. Since the two upper floors where not yet constructed, floor plates were shifted up and down and cut outs in the floor allowed views between the two floors. 

© Chaoying Yang

The use of independent rooms in the shape of free-standing boxes allows the activities to run parallel and it offers the most suitable environment for each. The rooms have their own program or theme, they all differ from the outside space in terms of color and furniture. They have their own story and inside life and allow the children to concentrate on the program offered. At the same time, small square window openings allows maintaining contact with the outside, and parents can have a peep inside to see what is going on.

Concept Diagram

The box locations are meant to break the rigid layout of the concrete columns, which is also camouflaged with a series of arches that give a different rhythm to the environment.  Visually, the common areas are treated with low contrast finishes in order to enhance and balance the space and equipments for the children.

© Chaoying Yang

The glass façade is wrapping all of the functions like a skin, following the given building perimeter. It has a printed pattern, which was developed out of simple single-line drawings made by children. They were modified into a pattern consisting of two different sized squares, the graphic motif is reversed: the background is white-translucent and the drawing is transparent. From far away the objects on the facade are recognizable, they indicate a building function related to children, fun and recreation.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Family Box / Crossboundaries Architects" 31 Jul 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • Trodd

    It seems as though the new generation of architects don’t understand what trees need to thrive. Therefore, do they truly understand what children need. Trees and Children go together don’t they. The trees in the photographs will struggle and die much earlier than they should. A shame for everyone and everything.

    • Tyler

      Yours is a trite, useless comment.

  • Tyler

    I think this building is great. I’d love to go there with my son. All the different levels and openings at a child’s scale make for an engaging, dynamic play space. Well done!

  • Wang Zhiyi

    The design might be ok but the construction and single layer facade is a nightmare in a time where energy consumption is skyrocketing in China.There is water everywhere. And not only in the swimming pool!
    Nice idea! Poor execution!

  • NARY