Text description provided by the architects. From the end of 2016 to 2018, Groundwork has been commissioned by the Architectural Services Department of Hong Kong to research and produce a design guideline on the future planning of children's public playground facilities in Hong Kong. Within these 18 months of study, we have not only carried out on-site research and analysis on existing successful examples of local and international playgrounds but also hosted participatory design sessions and used strategic questions to obtain various user experiences and suggestions on playground design through interviews.
Design vision. A kindergarten is a place where a person initially joins a social environment and becomes a member of society. It is the place where children begin to learn to get along with one another, learn about discipline, etiquette, build a collective consciousness, and develop their sense of self-awareness.
A natural, comfortable and respected environment. Children naturally loves nature. The existing kindergarten building encircles half of a park, allowing ample sunlight to reach into the building. The park design focuses on the use of natural timber and concrete instead of synthetic colourful materials as the main material source, allowing nature to extend into the building's interior, thus creating an organized yet comfortable learning environment. This type of spatial atmosphere not only enables children to enrich their spiritual well-being but also helps them to gain a sense of respect for nature and the school environment.
The joy of exploration. For the kindergarten's interior, we envision the public corridor as the threshold between the external park and the internal school environment. This corridor is the key social and play space for children between classes. Rather than it being a simple straight circulation corridor, its curved and angled form enables children to explore this space as another social arena.
The Richness of Light and Shadow. The use of light and shadows through different times of the day enables a space to have multiple depths and can act as a plaything for children. Other than introducing natural sunlight into the internal space, we also use various materials such as reflective bronze and stainless steel surfaces in the external space, to play out an ever-changing and interesting effect that can help to maximize children's imagination and their perception of space.
It's a kindergarten, as well as a playground. Other than providing a disciplined learning environment for children, we shall not forget that a kindergarten shall consider children's desire to play. As the kindergarten building footprint is limited, our design intent is to maximize the ground-level natural play space by extending the external playground into the interior. The idea of the playground is therefore ever-changing. Children's favorite elements such as slides, sand pit, climbing ropes, small hills, and the curved and angled wall all contribute to complete the ground floor of the school as a play space. In addition, small cut-out circular windows along the curved wall help children to envision themselves as being within a large ship and explores the corridor following the curved pattern on the floor.