Children’s Community Centre The Playscape

Looking for early education environment & architecture inspiration? In this article, we’ll look at this project to see how it aligns with early education philosophy, how the design facilitates learning, the activities that would suit these spaces and we’ll look at how you can use elements of the design as inspiration for your own service.

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Brief Overview of the Project

The Playscape is a refurbished project located within an industrial complex in northern Beijing. Originally a 1970s warehouse complex for grain storage, it was transformed by the architectural firm waa. The client, a healthcare provider, specializes in observing and supporting children’s development related to movement across various age groups. The design draws inspiration from past popular cultures, aiming to recreate the experience of street play and reduce screen time for children.


Alignment with Montessori, Steiner, or Reggio Principles

  1. Free-will & Group Interaction: The design promotes free-will, which is essential for engaging a child’s imagination. This aligns with Montessori’s emphasis on self-directed activity and group interaction.
  2. Adventure & Risk: The adventure playground aspect of the design allows children to decide their comfort level with risk, resonating with Steiner’s belief in experiential learning.
  3. Discovery & Exploration: The maze-like design encourages exploration and discovery, aligning with Reggio’s principle of the environment as the third teacher.


How the Design Facilitates Learning

  1. Nook and Cranny: Spaces are crafted specifically for children, with nooks that allow them to explore and understand ergonomics.
  2. Maze: The design encourages children to explore unseen places, emphasizing that the most direct route isn’t always the most enjoyable.
  3. Fantasy & Imagination: The landscape is abstracted, removing specific iconography to foster flexibility in thought-based scenarios.
  4. Balance & Awareness: The playscape promotes learning about equilibrium and proprioception, emphasizing the importance of balance and body awareness.


How the Design Helps Teachers Create Inspiring Lessons

  1. Diverse Spaces: With areas like the Pipe, Roof, and Mound, teachers have a variety of settings to craft lessons that challenge children’s senses and decision-making.
  2. Interactive Environments: The design includes a subterranean interactive environment, climbing topography, and a suspended tensile net, offering dynamic spaces for interactive lessons.
  3. Observation Points: The looped roof terrace allows teachers to observe children, facilitating real-time feedback and lesson adjustments.


Activities and Lessons Suited for This Space

  1. Balance Games: Using the mound to teach children about balance and decision-making at different inclines.
  2. Discovery Quests: Organizing treasure hunts in the maze-like design to promote exploration and problem-solving.
  3. Storytelling Sessions: Utilizing the nooks and crannies for intimate storytelling sessions, allowing children to imagine and dream.
  4. Physical Challenges: Setting up obstacle courses using the pipes, slides, and staircases to enhance body awareness and coordination.


Incorporating Elements of This Design in Other Kindergarten Environments

  1. Flexible Spaces: Instead of fixed classrooms, create adaptable spaces that can be transformed based on the lesson’s needs.
  2. Incorporate Nature: Even if a full playscape isn’t feasible, adding natural elements like plants or small mounds can promote exploration.
  3. Interactive Features: Introduce movable structures, such as slides or climbing nets, to encourage physical activity and exploration.
  4. Observation Points: Design spaces where teachers can observe children from a distance, allowing for independent play while ensuring safety.

In conclusion, the Playscape is a testament to the innovative design that aligns with educational principles, fostering an environment where children can learn, play, and grow.



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