Emphasising design, art and music, this Shenzhen kindergarten’s curving white halls, surprising accents and colour fragments make it unlike most childhood schools.
August 12th, 2021
Meiyi Kindergarten by PAL Design Group is a surprisingly sleek demonstration of what the future of early childhood learning could look like.
Externally, the facade has been rejuvenated to maximise natural light and introduce leafy greenery. The building’s exterior is made up of a palette of neutral grey and white, broken up by strips of vertical gardens and a pop of Meiyi’s signature coral colour. Arcs heavily feature across the design and the motif is initially established on the external frames that make up the facade’s wave-like pattern, in the metal fencing, the play equipment and the semi-circular transom windows.
This arc motif carries on inside the sprawling kindergarten, which covers almost 3000 square metres. The continuous curves and rounded, welcoming corners emerge in every room of the building and in arched doorways and curved toys. The arcs bring a softness to the structure and stimulate creativity and imagination, rather than the emblematic rigidity that accompanies hard lines.
Meiyi Royal Kindergarten Education Center is an English language private school that has roughly 200 students from two to six years old. The design’s simplicity leaves potential for wider, more explorative thoughts and ideas. According to PAL, the school “aspires to instil good daily habits in children from an early age, with an emphasis on the positive influence of design, art and music”.
Meiyi’s different facets – art, music, play and education – come together in each of the rooms. Visual and performing arts are prioritised through dedicated theatre, dance, recording and art studios. Minimalism in both design and colour carries throughout the school, without sacrificing fun or originality.
In one play area, a silver slide creates a sweeping curve through the centre of the room into an uncharacteristically coloured coral and white ball pit. In another, a sandpit is surrounded by glass walls and patterns can be projected onto the sand, evolving as the sand moves.
The kindergarten’s innovative facilities blur boundaries between education and play. Semi-enclosed pods between the library’s open bookshelves act as reading nooks or spaces for children to play hide and seek and the classrooms are divided into spaces for games, group discussions, learning and nap times.
This isn’t PAL’s first early learning space. They redefined the interiors of an Indian preschool in Gurugram, once again utilising their distinctive soft corners and minimalism to make the space safe and welcoming, along with an enticing play area defined by its elevated strung net. Closer to home, PAL worked with Sydney’s Frost* Collective to design NUBO, a children’s play centre in Alexandria that provides a calmer – yet no less fun – alternative to irritating and loud fun parks.
The project was designed by Joey Ho, Pal Design Group’s design partner. Born in Taiwan, raised in Singapore and having attended university in Hong Kong, Ho brings a unique perspective that has won him numerous international design awards.
Amalgamating education and play in a space designed for creativity, PAL and Meiyi hope to encourage small minds to grow.
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