Art Village

This performing arts and education centre in Beijing provides education programmes—such as theatre, classical ballet and modern dance—for children aged three to 12. It comprises three ballet rooms, two music rooms, one theatre, one large multipurpose room, 14 small piano rooms, locker area for children and an office for staff.

The designers from AND Lab conducted studies on similar children’s education centres in Beijing to understand the procedures and parents’ behaviours. They wanted to create an Art Village, filled with random huts of different shapes and sizes containing different programmes. Children can roam freely, exploring the huts with different activities inside in between lessons. A one-way mirror had been introduced for parents to observe the activities inside the centre without disturbing the classes in session.

At the entrance, double doors were installed for security purposes. The room next to the entrance was made black to prevent children from losing their sense of orientation, which might be possible if all the rooms were white.

To further enhance the playful atmosphere and engage the children through art whilst expanding their imagination, the designers collaborated with a surrealist illustrator, Alice Lin, to produce a series of murals on the outer walls of the huts to accentuate the ‘village’ feel, merging art into the space. A seemingly random placement of ‘stars’ then illuminates the indoor sky.

Local wooden sprung flooring was used for the classrooms, especially to dampen the bounce in the ballet room. The classrooms were fitted with local oneway mirrors, except for the theatre and piano rooms.

Locally made wood wool acoustic board was used for the piano room to reduce the reverberation. Local foam-filled acoustic panels were used for the theatre room, which requires even higher acoustic requirements.

One of the materials procured from abroad was the 3M film. The designers used the gradation transparency film to block the distraction from outside the classroom at eye level and solid white film for the numbering of the classroom as signage. Wood pattern textured film was used for the columns and seats.

Forbo’s marmoleum was also sourced from overseas as overall flooring. The marmoleum can be easily sanitised by mopping. The matt marmoleum is a waterproof and biodegradable material made from plants that reduces the impact when children fall.

Sound insulation was a significant technical consideration. To prevent sound crossing from one room to another, the independent hut was typology to address vibration-borne travelling sound.

Child safety was taken into consideration in terms of the construction materials used. For instance, laminated glass was used instead of tempered glass due to its lighter weight, which could minimise the risk of injuries in the event of breakage.

Initially, air-conditioning was thought to be a problem as the huts are not joined to the ceiling slab. Later, the designers realised that it was advantageous for the rooms to be in hut typology as they could minimise the re-ducting works and relocation of the fan coil units (FCU). They managed to keep the majority of the ductworks and connect the FCUs to diffusers inside the classroom by soft ducts.

Project Name: Art Village
Location: Beijing, China
Completion Date: September 2016
Gross Floor Area: 601.45 square metres
Client/Owner/Developer: Art Plus Pte Ltd
Interior Design Firm: AND Lab Pte Ltd
Images: Jonathan Leijonhufvud