Magic International Kindergarten, located in Baoshan District, Shanghai, is a renovation project that used to be a sales center in a housing estate in the past five years. In 2018, the community repositioned this 3100-square-meter site, to transform it into an outdoor playground for the daily activities of the kindergarten. The building area of the kindergarten is about 3200m². The private kindergarten opened in 2020 for children aged from three to six and had approximately 120 students in total.
This project is full of challenges: the site has been torn apart by the traffic with commercial function, which was a disturbance to the playground; the density of the shrubs are potential dangers for the kids, accompanied by bugs and mosquitoes; Infrastructure is unclear based on as-built construction records are missing.
In response to the kindergarten’s philosophy of “Unique Kids, Unique Education”, the site was transformed by adding custom-sized interactive installations, preserving the existing trees, and releasing the potential open space. As landscape architects, we wanted to provide children an open field that caries imagination and inspirations, as the first step of their early stage of life.
The shrubs have been rearranged to open the view, for better ventilation, protection and safety. The original waterscape at the entrance has been replaced by a receiving corridor. It’s been covered by a transparent top with blue triangle strips fixed on the panels. Sunlight coming through the patterns of the pavilion speckles the stone pavement with colors and shade.
Inspired by the Logo of Magic Kindergarten, a part of the fire lane has been transformed into an outdoor “carpet” with zebra pattern print, which creates playful and cheerful elements to the site while maintaining the fireproof function.
The design team preserved the existing trees with subtly modify spot elevations. At the core of the playground, a tilted cement circle has been placed following the grading of earthwork balance with a simple landform, for releasing the energy of kids. The circle varies in slope at most 20°, which is suitable for running, sitting, and gathering. It is been used dynamically when children have outdoor learning and playing.
A service parking spot was converted into a 30-meter-long running track. In this way, we saved the original site foundation, rearranged the layout and separated the function at the edge of the site without disturbing the other activity spaces.
A series of interactive installations have been created for young children, including five planters equipped with manual irrigation systems. Children get close with planting during the process of play. The modular jungle gym is for crawling, climbing and sliding; Under the camphor trees, a lifted meandering ramp for sitting and running for small groups of kids with gentle activities.
In the end, an imaginative outdoor space has been created to support the early year children’s cognition, health, social and motor skills development under an open, safe, and joyful environment.
Landscape Architecture: Z+T Studio
Design Principal: Dong Zhang, Ziying Tang
Landscape Architect: Yanjie Fan, Hongchao Liu, Jialin Zheng, Chuan Sun, Hu Wang, Zhexin Zhang
Year completed: October 2019
Photo credits: Arch-Exist Photography