Architecture for children: the project by Vudafieri-Saverino Partners in China

May 8, 2019

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Architecture for children: the project by Vudafieri-Saverino Partners in China

Four kindergartens where the immersive and experiential architectural space becomes a stimulus for imagination and learning: this is the new concept designed by Vudafieri-Saverino Partners, architecture studio based in Milan and Shanghai, starting from the idea of an ever closer relationship between  architecture and pedagogy.

In China the Italian architects have designed four schools – two in Shenzhen and two in Suzhou – for Gymboree Play & Music., the American brand which offers courses for infants and children up to the age of 6, with the aim of developing their cognitive and relational skills in early childhood; consequently, the aim was to create school spaces with a decisive role in the education of children, fostering their wellbeing and accompanying their learning process.  

The spaces are designed to interpret the theme of “travel” through shapes, colours and materials, with different areas recreating different environments: the ocean, the forest, the desert, the Arctic, the canyon and space represent a magical, dreamlike context which stimulates the children to use their imagination to live unique experiences and visit unknown worlds; the inspiration for the design of the spaces, which stand out for their simple geometries, bold colours and different materials, derives precisely from this identification with the children.

We tried to interpret the environments through the eyes of children, creating a context that provided them with sensations rather than images, so as to leave them free to fly on the wings of their imagination. The imagination of children is pure and original, they see the world with the independence and creativity of their own thoughts. Imagination is more important than knowledge, since knowledge is limited, while imagination is the driving force behind progress and the source of the evolution of knowledge“, say architects Tiziano Vudafieri and Claudio Saverino.

 The concept finds its brightest expression in the school of Shenzhen Upper Hills, a space of over 2000 square metres, which accommodates the offices of Gymboree employees as well as the classrooms: here the whole building – and not just the classrooms – is an immersive and highly experiential space, where colours, shapes and geometries become tools for giving life to an imaginative world, which characterises the corridors, transit areas, the reception, the bar, the common areas and the classrooms; the central garden with playground allows children to interact and play in the open air.

The offices are located on the upper floor and accommodate the entire Gymboree team in Shenzhen with meeting rooms and training areas, bar and kitchen; in addition, the lavish programme of collateral activities – such as gymnastics and cooking classes – is also open to parents, who can enjoy themselves while their children are having fun in class.  

Finally, the Gymboree logo and its iconic orange colour characterise the facades, making the space immediately recognisable from the outside: a celebration of architectures for children, where the design becomes education.

Photography is by Alan Grillo, Dirk Wiblen.