English Giraffe in Shanghai
- DUTS Design Shanghai Office
- Architect in charge: Ling Zhong, Architectural design: Yingqi Hu, Ke Xu, Tao Wan, Xiaofeng Chen
- Brand visual design
- Proad Identity, Taiwan
Classroom floating in the air---Space Design for English Giraffe in Shanghai
In 2018, the English Giraffe Elite campus settled in Xuhui Binjiang. This is a brand new upgrade and also the first practice in China for the brand. The new brand upgrade places higher demands on the design.
At the beginning of the project, we were very excited when we learned that we could design a new campus of English Giraffe in the happy land of Xuhui Binjiang. But in the face of this blank space with a length of more than 40 meters and a total area of about 600 square meters, we are also nervous.
For the architect, how to plan more space for use and fun while ensuring the children's complete learning space, and take advantage of the space length to design a 40.5-meter show window, is an exciting challenge.
"Every corner which seems to be reasonably placed now has its established thinking, and this is the source of a building’s characteristic." Multi-knowledge, personal expression, English and personality are the basic needs of children provided by English Giraffe. So we divide the space into different areas for reading, performance and learning, and then use color to unify the overall space and divide each activity area.
After placing the stage, theater, and books in a space of 600 square meters, we need to design seven large enough comfortable classrooms, office space and enough storage space to store various teaching tools. By taking advantage of the 4.2-meter height, we raised the classrooms and separate them from the ground. The four classrooms facing the public corridor are 3.6 to 4.0 meters to the ground, which enhances the sense of suspension and uncertainty. This uncertainty and proper separation creates a seemingly random state of freeness, and gives tension to the space.
The four classrooms "floating" between the two stages are in the middle of the entire space. Each classroom is like a round and pure white box with giraffe pattern formed by round holes of different sizes, which form a clear and soft picture and a unique perspective. Through the hollowed-out giraffe pattern, a mysterious and interesting communication atmosphere is formed inside and outside the classroom, and people passing the classrooms can faintly see the color and learning children in the room. At the same time, the children are “floating” in the air with the classroom, so they will not be disturbed by the outside world.
The “floating” classrooms and the 0.9-1.35 meters (an interesting value) height under them, give the whole space more latitude and an interesting activity area that belongs only to children. Children can access the space freely, while adults can only recall the beauty of childhood outside it. However, moving or quietness are all happy moments of life.
The reception desk is located at the front-end end and is embedded at an arc angle, to give reasonable space for the lobby space and maximize the book area at the entrance. The bookshelf is embedded in the wall, and various picture books are placed in an arranged manner. It echoes the “book house" at the other end of the space. The books on the shelf show the importance of knowledge under the warm yellow light of the floor lamps. People in this space are also easier to calm down, “comforting” by the displayed books.
For children, the first thing to learn is expression. In this limited space, we practically created two stages for the children, which are enough to be used as the children's small theater. The book area at the reception desk can be turned into a stage only with one curtain, and the entire hall is an open auditorium. Here, every day, there are children who start their courses by singing the school song and accept the attention and applause of every parent. On the other side of the space, another stage stands quietly, the Speak Up classroom. The children here are more willing to call it the Giraffe Theatre, because this stage is their partner in learning, rehearsing and performing. The embossed words consisting of the names of classic fairy tales, plays, novels and literary masters, are displayed around Speak Up on the back curtain of the stage, and they support every child on the stage. At the end of each session of Speak Up, there will be a performance. We are very pleased to see the children's excellent performance and the pride on the face of every parent.
"The colorfulness in the eyes of children, or the white space in the eyes of adults, is two different dimensions."
The school is where parents, children, and teachers coexist. After the proper placement of the functional area, we hope to give each space user maximum comfort, but this requires area division. We use color to “dually divide” the world of children and adults: in the eyes of parents, it will be simple, black and white; in the eyes of children, it will be beautiful and colorful. With the glazed white hall and the elegant gallery, such space reveals a simple and calm quietness, which is the place where adults like; in the area for children’s activities, the book area, stage and classrooms are all colorful, with eye-catching pictures, orange, green, blue... , which actively expresses the fun pursued by children.