32/53 PROJECTS

1st Floor

1st Floor - 2nd phase

2nd Floor

Basement

Bookshop Landscape

Project: Family Box – Beijing

Client:
Children Enterprise (UK) Limited
Location:
Beijing, China
Site area:
38,000 sqm
Building Footprint:
2,300 sqm
Gross floor area:
5,625 sqm
Design period 1st phase:
August 2008 – February 2009
Construction periode 1st phase:
August 2008 – December 2009
Partners:
Binke Lenhardt, DONG Hao
Team:
Crossboundaries, Beijing
Collaborating Architects & Engineers:
BIAD International Studio & BIAD TSH International Studio
Photographer:
Chaoying Yang

Family Box is something between an indoor playground and a kindergarten for children up to twelve years old, but it also accomodates their parents’ needs. It hosts different kinds of activities - from swimming, playing games to various classes ranging from music, dancing, crafting to cooking. Furthermore it has a big playframe, a reading area and a generous café area. Located at the outer corner of a park it is placed in a natural environment, which enhances the visibility of the building.

The different size and height between adult and child and their different angle of view was the starting point for considering Family Box should be made by two types of spaces: a kids-scale space and an adult-scale space.
How to find an inspiring balance between them? How to combine the different needs?

The use of independent rooms in the shape of freestanding boxes allows the activities to run parallel and it offers the most suitable environment for each. The rooms have their own program or theme, they all differ from the outside space in terms of color and furniture. They have their own story and inside life and allow the children to concentrate on the program offered. At the same time, small square window openings allows maintaining contact with the outside, and parents can have a peep inside to see what is going on.

The box locations are meant to break the rigid layout of the concrete columns, which is also camouflaged with a series of arches that give a different rhythm to the environment.
Visually, the common areas are treated with low contrast finishes in order to enhance and balance the space and equipments for the children.

Leaving an area of 600sqm in the ground floor open for a possible expansion, a 2nd phase was realized a bit than a year after the opening.
Both space- and function-wise, the second phase is understood as a continuation of the first one. It intends to create a safe, practical and fun playing and learning environment that provides mental and physical stimulation for children, and gives full play to their inquisitiveness and imagination.

In terms of program, the second phase accommodates both private and public functions, namely an office space, a party room with adjacent performance area, a music room, a reception and customer service, and a children's bookstore.
Space-wise, the office space and restrooms are located on the most functional spot -on the perimeter of the plan-, allowing the rest of the functions of the existing and the new area to blend into one. Following the formal language of the first phase, the party room, reception and customer service, and music room are enclosed in freestanding boxes.

The children's bookstore is conceived as an independent area, therefore intentionally breaking with the architectural language of the rest of the building.
Since the bookstore is also meant to serve for educational purposes, its design surpasses the conventional bookshop layout. It is a functional commercial space with a playful touch, becoming something in-between a children's bookshop and play area. The result is a dynamic 'book landscape', consisting of stepped platforms in which the bookshelves, seating or reading space for children, as well as the reception area are integrated. Simultaneously, it also functions as a stage or auditorium for storytelling.

It is meant as a space that inspires children and adults alike; a space that allows children to enjoy the playing time while visiting the bookstore, and to become a part of it while reading or playing. It is a space that invites children to explore the offered book collection while stimulating them to develop a reading habit.