VICTORIA INTERNATIONAL KINDERGARTEN
In the overall design concept, we focus on enhancing four major qualities in the growth of the children, attempt to offer a comfortable and state-of-the-art learning environment to promote 1) good health and physical activities; 2) freedom in thinking and in making choices; 3) a sense of discovery and exploration; and 4) concentration in learning and sharing with others.
For architecture to enhance a learning environment, the hardware is static, whereas activities are dynamic. We aspire to create a unique built environment offering ample functional areas at the same time huddle a safe and spacious environment for children to run, exercise, explore, making sand castles, splashing water, and playing hide-and-seek. In terms of architectural design, the building pays tribute to the traditional Chinese architecture where building masses are positioned to create internal courtyard in the form of a “sanheyuan.” All circulation corridors and common spaces are indeed covered outdoor areas with the circulation side facing the internal courtyard; teachers, students, parents, and visitors can see the lively activities and interactions of children between scheduled classes. The 3.6 meter-wide corridors creates a buffer zone between outdoor and indoor spaces resembling the “cloister” commonly found in traditional Chinese architecture, blurring the definition of an enclosed building while encouraging students to go outside the classrooms. To further enhance children's curiosity and explorative minds, some public spaces offer openings, skylights, slides, steps, catch nets, and low-level climbing walls for children to explore and move around freely, but safely.
At the two termination ends of each floor are outdoor green spaces, inspired by landscape terraces with wavering contour lines with the "legs" of the higher floors shorter than the lower ones such that overall building offers staggered garden terraces. The staggering is reversed in the front facade facing the Entry Plaza, besides a practical need to maintain floor area to accommodate functional program, also this main facade instigate projection and movement while protecting the courtyard behind. The building roof is a fully accessible garden by the all persons to enjoy, with skylight openings to bring natural daylight to interior spaces below.
In terms of landscaping design, the outdoor spaces highly integrates with the building with the 150-meter loop running tracks penetrating through the south wing on the first floor. Within the running tracks is a garden maze for children to explore and gather, the hedge shrubs are in two height levels – 900 mm and 1300 mm – to offer glimpses of visibility for children to resolve the puzzle, while other times they have to explore on their own with no visibility above the shrubs. The maze also offers special “secret corners” for small group gathering and playing.
In addition, the courtyard features a shallow swimming pool, sand pits, farming gardens, and a large lawn area for children to play football or run around. Within the internal courtyard the children are well protected and separated from the vehicular noise of the surrounding streets.
At the perimeter of the sites are landscaping areas creating a buffer between the kindergarten and the streets, with the vehicle inlet and outlet limited at Qishan Road.