What was the brief
Our client is a children’s healthcare provider specializing in movement development for a broad range of age groups. Children are often passive in decision making scenarios and Play is sometimes the only period under their own control. The Focus for this refurbishment is to address the missing elements of inner city dwelling, namely a functioning Neighborhood. Balance is taken for granted until challenged, we hope the building can become a tool for sensory learning. The iconography of the project becomes about the activity, to nudge children to imagine and feel what they see as the limits to their own adventure.
What were the key challenges?
Urban regeneration: waaplayscape takes a radical approach to giving this site an alternative future while maintaining the dialogue with the past. Much development within china is green field sites. Inner city regeneration usually occupy redundant industrial centres. With the existing building complex comprised of one warehouse and one office building, over time a cluster of illegal residential buildings had bridged the gap to enclose a courtyard. Strict site & safety constraints where enforced, stipulating no changes to general building massing including Plan and Elevation Outline, material choice, window locations and protection of existing trees. Conceptually the building massing must be kept in its entirety.
Faced without out the possibility to change the building massing a new Layer was grafted onto the existing roof and Courtyard spaces. The new additions for play are visually distinct from the industrial vernacular. Separating from this aesthetic of historic language of the place had greater functional outcome and also generated more interest for children. The technique of hooking new functions onto the existing massing represent a clear functional gains for previously unusable area for the client Increasing additional useable area under the mound by over 600 sqm and utilizing extra available area on the roof which accounts for 879 sqm. These functions also improve duration of outside play and exterior access longer into the winter/ summer climate extremes.
What materials did you choose and why?
Important materials internally and externally required a need to maintain child safety. The external landscape was treated with EPDM a rubber aggregate often used in playgrounds for its grip and impact softening in case of fall. Many of the interior zones also required impact protection. Walls and columns where protected with a 10mm eva foam at least 1m high in all play zones. The project was situated in a regeneration of an industrial warehouse complex, we maintained this link to the past by using bricks for the internal partition walls.