Archstudio makes minimalism playful for a children’s art centre

Beijing – Archstudio looks to traditional Chinese gardens as inspiration for the Poly WeDo Children’s Art Education Centre, forgoing angular partitions though a clever composition of repeating elliptical forms. The sinuous space captures the duelling qualities of playfulness and serenity through a series of irregular curves clad with warm, natural wood. 

Superimposing a contrasting organic form on the existing L-shaped structure, Archstudio resolved an architectural challenge by strategically evading the monotonous narrow hallway. The recurring shape embodies the same soothing aesthetic of nature through its abstract resemblance to a landscape of hills and valleys. Semi-circular walls delight children with their curious and unpredictable shape, while incorporating niches that match a child’s reduced scale.

Flat surfaces between the round protrusions are covered with reflective stainless steel, distancing them aesthetically from the curved wood with a cold reflective cladding that nearly disappears into the background. Recessed lighting allows for an uninterrupted wooden surface to continuously cover the ceiling, oval partitions and floor. Glass and open space constitute the invisible barriers to each classroom, providing acoustic insulation where necessary and maintaining visual continuity throughout the space.

At the end of the winding hallway is the dance room – a sharp rectangle that contrasts with the warm, sinuous interior. Floor-to-ceiling windows and exposed services feel alien to the soft landscape of the classrooms, relating more to the exterior and thus offering a connection to the city beyond.

The centre physically embodies its goal of education by inviting its small visitors to learn through interacting with the gently dipping structure, while still appealing to the mature eye with its clean lines and neutral palette. Archstudio beautifully adapts an abstract interpretation of the Chinese landscape in a modern, minimal aesthetic to suit the natural curiosity of children.

Location Damei Central, Chaoyang District, Beijing

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