Dalian, China – Lolly-Laputan, a new project by Wutopia Lab, is a self-described premium kids’ café. What makes it different to run-of-the-mill playgrounds? In 580 sq-m it combines learning activities with entertainment – tellingly, the space is co-owned by PACEE Education and Fairyland.
‘We wanted to create a world between reality and dreams for kids,’ explained chief architect Min Emi. That world is obvious right from the outside, as the exterior façade of the café uses aluminium panels to create an effect of ripples seemingly woven together. The front lobby features a forest of lights – that is, a thousand acrylic tubes that simulate the effect of the sun rising between the trees, reflected in a mirrored wall. Cloudy Town, the central area, provides an ocean of acrylic clouds, where children can jump from a tree house to a ball pit by way of slides.
The café part takes place in the Golden Castle, a spot equipped with a fireplace and tables with shiny silverware – child-sized, of course. Tiny visitors can have some privacy in a white gallery hidden from the centre.
And where do the learning activities take place? Small children in need of developing their social skills and sharpening their motor expression can do so in a bite-sized ballroom, where neon lights, bright wallpaper and several crystal chandeliers await the tiny dancers beyond the red velvet curtain.