YueCheng Courtyard Kindergarten in Beijing

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 YueCheng Courtyard Kindergarten in Beijing is a unique architectural project undertaken by the Chinese studio MAD. This project involved the conversion of an 18th-century courtyard building into a modern kindergarten. The design preserves the cultural heritage of the original site, constructed in 1725, while introducing new structures that wrap around the historic buildings. One of the standout features of this kindergarten is the undulating rooftop, colored in bright red and orange, which serves as a playspace for the children.

Alignment with Montessori, Steiner, or Reggio Principles

The design of the kindergarten emphasizes a connection between the old and the new, fostering an environment that allows children to gain a true comprehension of their surroundings. This aligns with Montessori and Reggio principles, which emphasize the importance of the environment in child development. The open spaces, courtyards, and the integration of nature (like the preservation of ancient trees) resonate with the Reggio Emilia approach, which values the environment as the “third teacher.”

How the Design Facilitates Learning

The kindergarten’s design offers a blend of enclosed spaces for art and dance classes and open-plan teaching spaces for a larger group of children. The presence of courtyards that puncture the roof, equipped with stairs, ramps, and slides, not only provides physical activity but also promotes exploration and movement, crucial for cognitive development. The glass-walled corridors offer views of the historic buildings, deepening children’s understanding of time, dimension, and the juxtaposition of old and new.

Supporting Teachers in Creating Inspiring Lessons

The diverse spaces within the kindergarten, from the rooftop playground to the courtyards and open-plan classrooms, offer teachers a variety of settings to conduct lessons. The design encourages experiential learning, allowing teachers to utilize both indoor and outdoor spaces effectively. The presence of a library, small theatre, and gymnasium further provides teachers with resources to craft multidimensional lessons that cater to different learning styles.

Activities and Lessons Suited for this Space

  • Rooftop Exploration: The undulating rooftop can be used for lessons on physical activity, balance, and coordination.
  • History and Time: Utilizing the contrast between the old and new structures to teach children about history, architectural evolution, and the passage of time.
  • Nature Studies: The preserved ancient trees and courtyards can be focal points for lessons on nature, growth, and environmental conservation.
  • Art and Creativity: The open spaces and natural light provide an ideal setting for art classes, dance lessons, and creative expression.

Incorporating Elements of this Design in Other Kindergarten Environments

For educators looking to infuse elements of the YueCheng Courtyard Kindergarten’s design into their own spaces, here are some suggestions:

  • Preserve and Highlight: If there are any historical or natural elements in the vicinity, preserve them and make them focal points of learning.
  • Blend Indoor and Outdoor: Create spaces that allow children to move seamlessly between indoor and outdoor environments, promoting exploration.
  • Utilize Vertical Spaces: If limited in horizontal space, consider creating elevated play areas or learning zones.
  • Incorporate Nature: Even in urban settings, introducing plants, trees, or even small gardens can bring a touch of nature, enhancing the learning environment.

In conclusion, the YueCheng Courtyard Kindergarten by MAD is a testament to how architectural design can be harmoniously blended with educational principles to create a nurturing environment for young learners.



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