Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing. -Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. Shenzhen is facing one of the most severe land use shortage in China. In the next five years, Shenzhen has only 224.64 sq.km. land area available for new development – which is less than 10% of total municipal land area; in addition, only 1% of the available land is dedicated for educational purposes.
Meanwhile, with the introduction of two-child policy, Shenzhen maintain the highest population density and youth population nationwide. The high demand for school enrollments requires kindergarten to give weight to classroom quantity, and playground space is seemingly less important today.
As we are commissioned to design the Shenzhen Lotus Kindergarten, we cannot stop reflecting upon what a good environment for children should be – and as far as we are concerned, with the premise to meet the institutional demands, “playing well” is still being the most important factor for kindergarten design.
The design reserves a complete south-facing outdoor playground within the tight plot. Furthermore, it provides each level with activity space through stepped terraces design - a strategy that allows the total activity space to be double of the plot. The activity space on each level comprises of outdoor platform to the south and shaded area to the north, and the space is connected to support children activities in both sunny and rainy days.
Each classroom is designed through modular system to meet demands from teachers and children, as well as to provide flexible transformation in the ever-changing future. A set of floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors will be installed to each classroom and blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor. The classroom, along with the outdoor platform and shaded area, will give children various ways to play, learn, and explore.