A Tree-Inspired Daycare in Beijing

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Bursts of vibrant colour adorn the kid-friendly shapes of Sako Architects’ Familybox early childhood education centre.

To achieve a playful, imagination-fuelling atmosphere, Tokyo-based Sako Architects reimagined enormous trees as abstracted white cylinders, whose perforations and sloping walls suggest the shape of a leafy canopy.

Twelve of the cylinders are scattered across the second and third floors of the three-storey centre, and house its 15 classrooms and activity rooms, including a child-friendly kitchen, a supermarket-themed playroom, music and dance rooms, exercise and play zones, and a cafeteria.

Each painted drywall cylinder is surrounded by a winding corridor. From here, visitors can catch glimpses of the activity within through a series of rounded apertures and irregularly curving doorways. All have inner surfaces painted in vibrant hues that correspond to the colour scheme inside the room, matching the casework, upholstery, and carpet or tinted linoleum. These bursts of colour help to both enliven the linoleum-floored hallways and to provide navigational landmarks that pop against a flat white backdrop.

On the ground floor, in addition to the reception area, the 4,100-square-metre daycare holds three children’s swimming pools. To extend the motif found in the wall apertures on the upper floors, Sako surrounded the pool areas in white walls perforated with circular openings of varying sizes; here, though, they are kept white, evoking the look of floating bubbles.

Though the spaces are minimal, and white dominates throughout the centre, the variety of scales and types of activity in each room are designed to enable a wide range of activities, and to promote, in the words of the architects, a “joyfula and pleasant space that stimulates the curiosity of children.”

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