Atelier XI - Wuhan City Pavilion and Kindergarten, a floating miniature city
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Wuhan City Pavilion and Kindergarten, a floating miniature city

Atelier XI

Culture  /  Completed
Atelier XI

The architect was commissioned to design a spatial structure that serves as both a sales pavilion and a kindergarten at different times with completely different program requirements. By adapting one building for two purposes, this project aims to avoid the environmental consequences caused by a temporary building construction and the unnecessary demolition.

Through experiment of decomposing the building into a series of adaptable units that can be transformed from one function to another, the architect envisions a parallel between the floating miniature city belonging to children and the series of model galleries that lead visitors to envision their future homes.

The completed building appears as connected "voids". Series of internal spaces are joined through intricate folds that are visually expressed on the exterior facade and the roof.

The structure, facade and the interior of the building are highly integrated. The concrete structure conforms to the logic of the internal spaces, and the facade uses white granite stone and glass curtain walls to express the overall skeleton and the folded interior.

The architect aims to overturn the conventional model of enclosed, over-decorated interior sales spaces. Instead, a more embracing gesture towards the surrounding urban environment is envisioned with interior spaces honestly presented on the exterior facade, allowing the spatial structure rather than facade decoration to become a unique landmark.

The key challenge in this project is to create a spatial structure that serves as both a sales pavilion and a kindergarten at different times. By adapting one building for two purposes, this project aims to save the construction cost of a temporary sales center and avoid the environmental consequences caused by the unnecessary demolition.

When the sales pavilion ends its operation, the outdoor landscape will be renovated as open playground. Simultaneously, small structural adjustment will be conducted to transform sales exhibition spaces with greater height into more compact teaching spaces through inserting additional floor slabs. On the facade, preset measures will also be used to adjust glass curtain walls into operable windows for kindergarten use.

As the architect lived in Wuhan during childhood, he paid a visit to the kindergarten he had attended at the start of the design stage. However, it turned out that the kindergarten in reality was far smaller compared to the image that had resided in his mind for long--the spatial scale was subconsciously exaggerated by childhood memory. Inspired by this experience of deformed scales, the architect proposed to establish a unique spatial perception in which children's spaces are to be felt enlarged as the surrounding cityscape shrinks. As a result, a floating miniature city for children is created as a cluster of pods scattered around on the ground, in the air, under the sun, and in the shadow.

The architect expects that the playfulness of these rooms is able to stimulate children’s interests in shapes of spaces and to endow each classroom with distinctive identity by offering unique lighting and landscape views. Children are encouraged to explore, wander, and grow in such interconnected micro cities.

Through the pandemic, the completion of this project celebrates the creative ideas and great collaborative efforts of designers and builders. Along with the time, the building will serve different functions but remain as the anchor point for the local community.


 Wuhan Vanke Real Estate Co., Ltd.
 Kindergarten, Sales Pavilion
 1940 mq
  3,000,000.00 $
 Atelier XI
 Xi Chen, Di Tian, Zhu Zhu, Ziya Lin, Jiajie Huang, Zhiwei Xu, Cekai Weng


Founded in 2017 by XI CHEN in New York City, ATELIER XI is an architectural design practice currently based in Shenzhen, China. With work focusing on public and cultural projects at various scales, the studio aspires to create spaces that bring unique poetry and profoundness to contemporary urban and rural environments. We believe that each space, grand or tiny, is a clue to the vastness of our world, and a testimony to the glory of everyday life. By planting these quiet and resilient spaces one at a time, we envision architecture to branch out and blossom with life and narratives.

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