Class-A Design InstituteXiamen Hordor Architecture & Engineering Design Group Ltd., No.1 Civil Design Institute
Project ManagerWei Wei
Text description provided by the architects. When I first stepped out into the site of Xinnan Kindergarten, I was a bit down and disappointed. Looking around, in this village nearby the Xiamen Island, I saw nothing but the barren fields and messy country houses. It has neither the rich and interesting information nor the fascinating surroundings.
Kindergarten construction belongs to the grassroots people's livelihood project, mainly meeting the growing educational needs of preschool children in several natural villages nearby. The project investment budget is also relatively tight: the construction scale of 3,900 square meters with 12 classes, and the comprehensive cost of 2,000 yuan per square meter (including the sitie, civil work, equipments, simple interior decoration, etc.) Moreover, it should be directly delivered to the users.
Although there are some disadvantages on the site and the budget, we still need to find some way to do our best to get it done.
The “face” of the Dongliao Village is nothing different from other natural villages in the suburbs. The left-behind people lived on their own land, and they saved the money to build a house, which basically followed the principle of “economical and applicable”: horizontal and vertical, and well-regulated. The doors and windows are casual, but it still conforms to the interior functions. As for the "beauty", according to the conditions of each family, decorative overlay of red bricks with Minnan characteristics is applied in order to obtain the good luck. After imitating the buildings with each other, it became a common style. The kindergarten's with nearly 4,000 square meters is going to be built in this village, It should be an unprecedented public building. What would it look like?
We don't want to build an alien creature， even if the kindergarten is always recognized as“overly dressed up”.
Thus, similar to the houses nearby, this kindergarten building is designed as a simple square box. The shape is the most simplified, so the exterior wall area is the smallest. It may reduce some cost. The doors and the windows are based on the interior functions. The children's classrooms and activity rooms are opened up to make the interior space as bright as possible. The exterior wall are decorated by Minnan local red bricks. But there’re a little bit interesting changes in the masonry construction. This may be slightly different from the surrounding rural houses. It’s so-called "beautiful" and "contemporary". After the house was built, some new teachers even cannot recognize which building is the kindergarten at first sight since it’s almost the same with other surrounding houses. They think it is special.
After all, the “face” of the house is not our main focus. We were trying to deal with the external features of the building with maximum restraint. We mainly focus on how to show the interior space of the building. We should spend a lot of time working on it.
We firstly created a number of courtyards inside the building, and the main functions were based on the courtyards. With the counrtyards, the ventilation is good and the space is bright. The two main courtyards are designed to be a large and a small circles. There is a clear contrast between this round courtyard and the square-shaped building. The building looks a little bit like a big cheese. In the small round courtyard, trees are planted to introduce the seasonal changes, and the big round courtyard is for outdoor activities function.
The main color and materials in the interior space are pure, fine white, and the ground is decorated by active colors in order to active the atmosphere. Although it has a big contrast with the surrounding red bricks, it increases the fluidity of the space.
Due to the cost control, there’s no budget for the suspended ceiling in the public area. We try to make the exposed beams display in a smart way, and adjusted to the interior space as well. Besides, we tactfully deal with the position of all kinds of pipelines and try to maintain beautiful surface.
Actually, we intentionally make the big contract between the inside and the outside, the square and the circle, and the red and the white. We look forward to seeing the surprise faces of the children when they enter the house. We would like to offer them the opportunity to have a different daily life experience in a place that accords with real kindergarten space.
There is always an inseparable link between the streamline and the space, and the interesting streamline design further stimulates the possibility of the activities. Children of this age seem to have endless energy to play. Chasing with each other again and again is full of attraction and temptation to them.
The appearance of two round courtyards, large and small, provides a stage for such scene. The main communication space in the kindergarten surrounds the courtyards, which naturally forms an "8"-shaped space. In this space, the streamline of the infinite shuttle loop is created, soft and smooth, with fewer edges and less angles. It is better for children's daily activities.
Due to complex realistic conditions, the construction process didn’t go smoothly. We have limited choices in materials and crafting selection, which left some regrets, but we believe that all parties have done their best. Regarding the design itself, we also have a lot not to be considered enough and we still have room to improve. Fortunately, our initial idea about the house retained finally.
At that moment, I saw children running freely in the bright and fluid courtyards. I heard a young teacher who was just on board said that she decided to come to this kindergarten because she liked this house. My upset heart calmed down. We’ve at least done something meaningful.
Once I talked with the headmaster. She said, "If this kindergarten is built in the city, it may be better." If so, it will be another building and another story. In fact, it is not the wrong position of the house, but the improvement of overall level of the region construction still requires the joint efforts from all parties in the society.
It’s a long road. Let’s inspire with each other and keep moving forward.