CLOU architects realizes Hangzhou kindergarten as series of stacked building blocks
Chill Shine

CLOU architects realizes Hangzhou kindergarten as series of stacked building blocks

5 Jun 2024  •  News  •  By Gerard McGuickin

Beijing-based CLOU architects, an internationally-focused design studio, has completed the West Coast Kindergarten located in the Liangzhu area to the north-west of the city of Hangzhou, China. Working within a restricted plot, the studio employed a design strategy akin to building blocks, layering and stacking modules to free up limited space.

photo_credit Chill Shine
Chill Shine

The kindergarten sits on a narrow 4,900-square-meter (52,743-square-feet) rectangular site that faces an elevated highway and is adjacent to the West Coast Retail street, also designed by CLOU architects. (The street is described as the west gateway of Liangzhu Village, connecting historic Liangzhu culture with the modern city). For CLOU architects, the project had two key design challenges: ensuring the availability of sufficient playground space for kindergarten activities and meeting the necessary lighting requirements within the constraints of a limited plot.

photo_credit Chill Shine
Chill Shine
photo_credit Chill Shine
Chill Shine

CLOU’s design approach to the kindergarten made use of a number of building blocks with modules serving as classrooms. “Through layering and stacking, the architectural floor area is significantly condensed, thereby freeing up limited space,” says the studio. Stacking the classroom modules across three levels ensured ample playground space for the kindergarten as well as providing each classroom with its own outdoor area — a “mini playground” that acts as an extension of the indoor space and offers additional opportunities for learning. Classrooms are south-facing, making certain that every room receives plenty of natural light, something that is conducive to healthier learning environments.  

photo_credit CLOU architects
CLOU architects
photo_credit Chill Shine
Chill Shine
photo_credit Chill Shine
Chill Shine

A large, bright, and airy double-height foyer beneath the stacked blocks acts as a communal area. “The variation in scale enriches children’s spatial experience and provides more flexible possibilities for different activities to take place,” says CLOU architects. 

photo_credit Chill Shine
Chill Shine

The studio made a decision to restrict the use of color — the architecture acts as a backdrop to the children’s varied activities. Facades are predominantly white with window frames colored in shades of red or blue; playful red or blue color blocks also feature in each classroom’s outdoor space. An extended play area in front of the building is marked out in shades of blue. In the large foyer, a stairway is accented using a warm shade of peachy orange.

photo_credit Chill Shine
Chill Shine
photo_credit Chill Shine
Chill Shine

CLOU’s limited color palette for the kindergarten is adopted from Le Corbusier’s approach to color as set out in the famed architect’s 1931 book Polychromie Architecturale (Polychrome Architecture). Le Corbusier’s coherent architectural color palette comprises 63 shades that work in harmony and create a rational system for color application. The kindergarten’s colorful window frame “lines” and blocks of color imbue the building with a geometric quality — for CLOU, this “inspires children’s sense of space and aesthetic consciousness.” The architectural geometry continues in the use of differently-shaped windows and openings.

photo_credit CLOU architects
CLOU architects
photo_credit Chill Shine
Chill Shine

 

Building layers

Ground floor:

photo_credit CLOU architects
CLOU architects

First floor:

photo_credit CLOU architects
CLOU architects

Second floor:

photo_credit CLOU architects
CLOU architects

Roof:

photo_credit CLOU architects
CLOU architects

“West Coast Kindergarten is a design tailored for its site, aiming to ignite children’s curiosity through outdoor spaces that extend from indoors. We hope that in such a simple, unadorned environment, every child’s nature and creativity can be unleashed,” says CLOU.