As kindergartens in China adopt a three-grade system, the Shanghai-based PERFORM Studio designed one in the northern outskirt of Yangzhong, Jiangsu province as three overlapping hexagons corresponding to the grades. each volume has a courtyard inside and is covered with a lover of a different color.
All the programs are organized around three courtyards that have identical plan shapes but varied floor numbers, resulting in an overlapping and cascading massing form. Five sides of a hexagon accommodate a classroom each, while the sixth side is for shared circulation or a public space. The classrooms are located on the upper floors of the volumes to maximize the natural light access and ventilation. Other activities — music and art studios, a library, a multipurpose hall, a kitchen, and teachers’ offices — are located on the lower floors.
The courtyards differ in their character and materiality: PERFORM designed the one-story courtyard for the junior grade, and covered it with a lawn. The middle-grade children migrate to the second courtyard, which features a mound-like wooden platform, and is the roof of the multipurpose hall below. As the third courtyard is thought to host more mature kids, the architects proposed a concrete paving which can also collect rainwater and turn into a shallow wading pool during the warm season.
While each courtyard seems to clearly belong to each different grade, the open circulation spaces and shortcuts between the courtyards allow the children to easily explore other less familiar spaces. The spiritual center of the kindergarten is an outdoor amphitheater that slopes down from the mound of the second courtyard, partially covered by the roof of the third courtyard. The closes adjacency between the volumes gives children a possibility to step out onto the roof terrace of the neighboring hexagon, and enjoy diverse outdoor activities.