Crossboundaries developed and tailored the first English Center to an existing space, to fulfill a multitude of requirements and to match closely the Qkids brand image and vision. The project site is located in Xiamen's Siming District. The space is long and narrow, on the street level of an architecture complex, with a large glass front window.
Diverse functions had to be accommodated - for different audiences, at various times of the week - Qkids students attending classes mainly on weekends, siblings, their parents and caretakers, prospect students and passersby exploring the bookstore or getting information about the Qkids brand, its educational offers or just attending an event in the Qkids Center.
The total demand of functions required exceeded the actual store space. Flexibility was a key principles applied in Crossboundaries’ space design concept, flexibility in time and space - so that the center can cater for various functions, whilst it becomes an enticing, flexible and fun educational space and expresses the overall Qkids brand philosophy.
Crossboundaries started to re-organize all necessary functions for the center based on the required degree of privacy and usage time. Integrated functions such as resting, play and display, were grouped as public areas and re-arranged along the window front of the original shop. These public areas were given improved visibility to engage and invite, representing the values and open-mindedness of the Qkids Brand. Private areas were assigned to teaching spaces, office and supporting areas.
The main feature is a blue spine, - a long sculptural body - running through the core of the narrow space, the blue interface holding everything together and allowing at the same time for connections and modular inserts.
The front is composed as a large cubic wall grid, which is built as a steel structure, with public function areas inserted, in form of vertical and horizontally stacked wooden modules, containing the more open reception area and clearer defined break out modules that can be shared by parents and students alike.
The upper modules became an exploration world designed solely for the little ones, within the cubic grid, in which children can climb up and engage in playful activities during breaks or whilst waiting together with parents for their siblings to finish the class.
The overall space is arranged into areas of different levels of privacy, the blue spine facilitates a smooth transition from one layer to another - from a very public, very visible front to the semi-public corridor in the center and the private, non-public classrooms in the back.
The blue interface also makes room for modular furniture elements that can be placed and modified flexibly and stored away within, at any time according to the actual scenario and the number of users.
Visual connections remain across the center's different functional areas and allow for a stimulating spatial experience. Throughout, the relationship between inside and outside, especially between public areas on the main glass front and its outside surroundings is kept fluid.
The storefront window was expanded in height, to give an opportunity to the public to get from the outside a glimpse straight into the contemporary, unusual English Center interior. The vast transparency of the store and the blue cubic spine are there to attract the community's curiosity whilst peeking in. It allows them to spot people inside, resting, chatting or browsing shelves, kids playing, in action, amidst a variety of open and closed areas and of different colors and materials. Hidden and not immediately visible from the main outside front, are the offices and a book display.
The choice of materials is meant to reflect the offline and online teaching environment that Qkids is offering and mirrors both, the digital world through silver-blue-metal references, as well the offline, the more sensorial world, with more lively, warm, smooth wooden textures and materials, to stimulate the senses of the children and heighten their curiosity.
A dividable reading zone, that can be accessed either from the main front entrance via the reception, or by the secondary entrance, includes a small display. It can be used by both, Qkids students and their parents as a waiting area and is defined more as a "members only" zone.
The Qkids English Center's teaching zone in the back consists of three regular classrooms and one multi-functional one. All of them are configured in the same way and provide a neutral, plain environment in contrast to the outside.
Sliding doors between the reading space and the multifunctional classroom can divide or expand the public space, and turn it from a standard classroom into a meeting, event, or Qkids brand exhibition space. As the center gains more popularity and at peak times, when it needs to run more classes in parallel, this solution offers maximum flexibility for different requirements.
The overall structure of the interior is made more intriguing, inspiring, and children-friendly through the limited use of colors and different material textures applied throughout the designs. Blue is an integral part of the Qkids Brand's visual language and became therefore the leading color, visible on the core feature, the blue spine, supported by a simple, geometric formal language and playfully integrated shapes of different sizes.
Crossboundaries has created essential master elements, defining the Qkids English Center look & feel for the future, a smart interior, yet an architectural solution, that can be adapted and leveraged in more 'off-line' English Centers to come.
Crossboundaries is a multidisciplinary, design-centered practice with projects ranging from urban planning, architecture, and interior design all the way to graphic design, programming, teaching, and event creation. We practice by name, crossing the boundaries of the design domain, initiating activities and dialogues across different fields. Keeping us continually thinking and doing, we aim to engage, evolve and adapt. Passionately facilitating for human needs, Crossboundaries main interest is people. We are dedicated to solvw challenges to deliver creative solutions. We innovate products that result from going beyond the requirements of a brief to include the sensitivities of human needs, in the process sharing our knowledge and philosophy.