The new campus of the BeneBaby International Academy is located over the Lanjiang Hills of the Fujian District in Shenzhen, China. Covering an area of 2,000sqm, it is a kindergarten institution that aims to provide comprehensive quality education. VMDPE Design was commissioned to develop the project, probing the relationship between art, space and children’s natural curiosity for exploration.
In addition to general classrooms, the BeneBaby International Academy houses a drama classroom, an art and music classroom as well as several spaces for indoor and outdoor activities, all of which aim to cultivate an international vision in favor of the children’s development, making them life-long learners.
Classroom design takes into consideration the children’s differing needs to create a child size environment, providing the facilities with equipment for children to operate by themselves such as clothes hangers, schoolbag cabinets, homework cabinets and large whiteboard walls.
Specially customized lamps are able to emit light upward and downward, diffusing soft illumination in all corners of the space. The lamps double as ceiling hangers that can be used by teachers to create educational atmospheres in the classrooms. The particular design of the hand-washing station ensures that children don’t splash water on their clothes or over the floor. Altogether, these functional details respect and improve the growth and natural development of children.
Flexible Spaces for Multiple Activities
Free activity areas are a paradise for children. Each floor in the project presents large areas reserved for this purpose, a rare view in children’s educational spaces in big cities.
Creatively designed activity centers such as the wonderful “disordered ring space” or the fun-filled “wheat crop circles” can be found on the interiors. Furthermore, the outdoors present colorful sport venues and other activity areas that combine natural elements such as sand, stone and grass. The variety of activity venues provides different solutions used to develop class content. VMDPE Design hopes that, with the help of a resourceful design approach, children are able to create different learning and life experiences in multiple environments.
Understanding Children’s Natural Curiosity for Exploration
Exploration provides a way for children to understand the world. It can be either behavioral or cognitive.
柏拉图认为，除了我们所能感觉到的客观现实世界外，还存在一个理念世界（world of ideas），而孩子的思维世界就是柏拉图式的世界，是纯粹的精神世界，是混沌的，充满冒险精神的，充满哲学式思考的。
Plato believed that in addition to the real and objective world we perceive, there is also a world of ideas. Children’s thoughts exist as a Platonic world; pure and spiritual, disordered, with an adventurous spirit full of philosophical thinking.
A Disorganized Yet Harmonious Design Language
Inspired by this line of thought, VMDPE Design embraces new visual techniques that avoid concrete content and focus on “undetermined” content. Only the most basic shapes and colors can stimulate the children’s imagination, creating a wonderful perceptual experience for them. As Mondrian once explained in his theory of Neoplasticism: “this new art will discover itself, in the abstraction of shapes and colors, in straight lines and intuitive primary colors”.
Upon walking into the space, we are welcomed by a subtle feeling of randomness, perhaps caused by the sphere floating in the air, or the graceful cave on the corner. Interlaced straight and curved lines construct a spatial relationship almost invisible at plain sight. Then again, such wonderful impressions make children imagine and ponder. This approach to spatial design is of great importance for early childhood education institutions; it simply helps to emancipate the mind.
Regarding the design approach used to maximize the efficiency of the inherently long-layout of the project, several techniques were applied to enrich the main aisle, visually expanding public areas to completely avoid traditional corridor-like forms and provide dynamic circulation paths. The approach further develops spatial hierarchy within areas and corners of different scales, forming a versatile atmosphere that encourages exploration through a plethora of intriguing elements. Here, children can choose different locations to play and enjoy social activities, or explore even further by simply fomenting their natural curiosity.
There is a universe in every child’s heart. The purpose of the BeneBaby International Academy is to build an innovative school for children, in line with international education standards. More than that, it hopes to present a responsible and creative world, capable of nourishing the hearts of children.