Excerpt: In Folded Fairylands – Wuhan City Pavilion & Kindergarten designed by ATELIER XI the major challenge was to create a spatial structure that serves as both a sales pavilion and a kindergarten at different times with completely different themes and regulatory requirements. The architect envisions a parallel between the floating miniature city belonging to children and the series of model galleries that lead visitors to envision their future homes.
[Text as submitted by architect] In 2019, the architect received a commission to design a standard 6-classroom kindergarten in Wuhan. The project is located in Hankou, Wuhan, only 1 kilometer away from the South China Seafood Market where the pandemic first broke out. Thanks to the unremitting efforts of the whole team, the project plan was restored and completed after the unblocking of Wuhan.
The major challenge in this project is to create a spatial structure that serves as both a sales pavilion and a kindergarten at different times with completely different themes and regulatory requirements. By adapting one building for two purposes, this project hopes to save the construction cost of a temporary sales center and avoid the environmental consequences caused by unnecessary demolition.
Through research, the design team experimented to decompose this building into a series of adaptable units that can be transformed from one function to another. The architect envisions a parallel between the floating miniature city belonging to children and the series of model galleries that lead visitors to envision their future homes.
The completed building appears as connected “voids”. A Series of internal spaces are joined through intricate folds that are visually expressed on the exterior facade and the roof. The architect expects that the playfulness of these rooms is able to stimulate children’s interest in the shapes of spaces and endow each classroom with a distinctive identity by offering unique lighting and landscape views. Children are encouraged to explore, wander, and grow in such interconnected microcities.
As for the sales pavilion, the architect aims to overturn the conventional model of enclosed, over-decorated interior sales spaces. Instead, a more embracing gesture towards the surrounding urban environment is envisioned with interior spaces honestly presented on the exterior facade, allowing the spatial structure rather than facade decoration to become a unique landmark. The connected interior “void” spaces will form a chronological visiting sequence: the past (urban environment and model display) – the present (show house display)-future (exhibition on health intelligence and eco-garden).
The structure, facade, and interior of the building are highly integrated. The reinforced concrete structure conforms to the logic of the internal spaces, and the facade uses white granite stone and glass curtain walls to express the overall skeleton and the folded interior. When the sales pavilion ends its operation, the outdoor landscape will be renovated as an open playground. Simultaneously, small structural adjustments will be conducted to transform sales exhibition spaces with greater height into more compact teaching spaces by inserting additional floor slabs. On the facade, preset measures will also be used to adjust glass curtain walls into operable windows for kindergarten use.
During the pandemic, the theme of the exhibition hall in the building has been adjusted to the theme of Health Intelligence and Ecological Living. The building is expected to not only serve as a sales promotion space but also as a platform to familiarize local residents with knowledge about health and technology and to boost the confidence of the community by providing insights into a brighter future.