How to use space to nourish the (natural) curiosity of young children?

Lead designer Vinci Chan: “We hope to create an interior space, but to break something regular, to build an order and interesting interior space for exploration. The inspiration comes from the “secret base” children’s imagination during their childhood days, which is like the structure of ants nest underground, connecting small spaces with small paths and full of fun.”

Project name: Guangzhou Lion International Kindergarten
Project location: 507 Creative Park, Yuancun Village, Tianhe District, Guangzhou, China
Design company: VMDPE
Design date: March – May, 2018
Construction date: May, 2018 – September, 2018
Site area: 700m²
Construction area: 500m²
Indoor area: 1,000m²
Project status: completed
Lead designer: Vinci Chan
Design team:  Dio Chang,Lucy Lu
Project type: building façade renovation and interior design, lighting design, prop design
Building structure: frame structure
Information of building materials and manufacturers
Light: Philips
Rubber mats: LG
Wall paint: buoncolor
Photography: Chao Zhang
Text: Sam Zhang

The Lion International Kindergarten Project is located in an old residential community in the Tianhe District of Guangzhou. Surrounded by old-fashioned houses, the community itself lacks a venue for children’s activities. Children here are in desperate need of a comfortable and safe environment to learn and play.

Lion International Kindergarten By VMDPE - Sheet19The project sits in an old granary with an area of barely 500sqm, and presents multiple contradictions between functionality, spatial distribution and environment adequacy. Through conscious design, VMPDE breaks away with the restrictions generated by the surrounding areas and the space available, to create a healthy and sustainable environment for children to grow.

Being an educational institution that encourages young children to explore with freedom, Lion International Kindergarten adheres to the STEAM education philosophy, a system based on the objective integration of “science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics”. Such educational concept is in line with international standards and focuses on the comprehensive development of coordination abilities at a young age.

Lion International Kindergarten By VMDPE - Sheet18Accordingly, the kindergarten exhorts children to, through physical effort in a free environment, develop observation skills, problem-solving skills, communication abilities, thinking abilities and cooperation skills, all by themselves, further inspiring them to protect the environment and to cherish social responsibility. VMDPE designed the interiors of the project to seamlessly integrate with the STEAM concept.

Being an educational institution that encourages young children to explore with freedom, Lion International Kindergarten adheres to the STEAM education philosophy, a system based on the objective integration of “science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics”. Such educational concept is in line with international standards and focuses on the comprehensive development of coordination abilities at a young age.

Lion International Kindergarten By VMDPE - Sheet16

Following international education standards, the front was divided into two levels: the first floor, which holds carpentry and dance classrooms; and the second floor, which houses art and science classrooms. Such logical partitions highlight different interaction areas according to the concept of STEAM’s multidisciplinary integrated education. Furthermore, the rear side of the building was transformed into a free exploration space containing the main stairs, a slide, reading stations, an open cooking classroom, a role playing area among other segmented and intersected areas.

Lion International Kindergarten By VMDPE - Sheet13Moreover, the door on the first floor opens to create an area useful for small shows or outdoor group activities. The design of flexible spaces grants specific functionality to determined areas when needed, thus enriching the educational content available during early childhood. This case in particular was completely designed to improve the concept of early childhood education spaces in China which often lack specific features or clear functionality. Rich indoor activity areas not only help to induce the desire to explore, but also grant children freedom of choice, promoting subjective exploration based on their own hobbies.

Sustainable design modularity

The project mainly portrays natural wood colors in an honest, straightforward design that teaches children the importance of environmental sustainability, as it is promoted by both their educators and the design firm. VMDPE specializes in the design of educational spaces for children, with particular attention to safety and environmental protection, through the use of carefully planned modular strategies. To this end, all components are produced off-site. Only final assembly takes place in the building, reducing pollutants and achieving the sustainability goals of the design.

Lion International Kindergarten By VMDPE - Sheet12VMDPE implements a modular approach to efficiently control both the design process and production costs. By allocating functionality of space, the production of related modules can be targeted at the start of the design phase, allowing the definition of an accurate budget for the entire project. VMDPE’s modular design approach features first-class, healthy and sustainable environments, and even though the project is based in a first-tier city, the cost is moderate and fully complies with the requirements of most educational systems for children in China, including operation and development needs. This approach is particularly suitable for high-end brands and chain kindergartens, and also provides guidance to the educational space design market of second and third tier cities in China.

Environment (and details) scaled for young children

The designer selected children friendly materials for every detail of the project. Furniture is custom-made according to the height of every age group. Power outlets and switches are positioned at heights that children cannot reach. VMDPE even provides a solution for the lack of outdoor spaces in children’s educational institutions, by expanding functions of the originally small courtyard.

Lion International Kindergarten By VMDPE - Sheet10Taking into account that water, sand and stone are the natural elements that children like most, a sand pool and a climbing wall were designed outside the building. This caters to the growing needs of children of different ages. The Lion International Kindergarten Project truly embodies the development of young children. Through rationality and thoughtful design, the core of an international educational space for children’s development has been achieved.

With vast experience on early childhood education in China, VMDPE professionally solved the site’s limitations, allowing the kindergarten to meet the educational philosophy of the international brand. The kindergarten is expected to achieve its social functions in a safe, healthy and sustainable environment.


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Vinci Chan

Founder and Main Designer of VMDPE Design

As the founder and main designer of VMDPE, Vinci Chan has specialized in two areas of expertise: branding and education. He has researched the relation between human behavior and space for more than twelve years. As a result, he has successfully completed the design of first-class projects such as IBOBI International Kindergarten, BeneBaby International Daycare, among other representative assignments.

Once devoted to brand building and visual design of apparel and consumer goods, Mr. Chan acquired extensive experience in prop development and the implementation of new materials. He has accordingly developed a unique understanding of spatial behavior and brand building.

When his son was born, he began to deeply research the education market, thus focusing on professional design strategies for the industry. At the start of his research on the design of educational spaces, he devoted two years to analyze a large number of early childhood institutions considering relevant factors such as local environment, children’s physical fitness, local and international educational concepts, materials and production process research; in order to ultimately improve the design of such spaces.

In 2015, IBOBI International Kindergarten was widely recognized by Children’s Education Programs. In the foreseeable future, he will continue to provide the children’s education market with more top quality experiences and produce even more professional environments for the healthy growth of Chinese children.

About VMDPE Design

Shenzhen VMDPE Design is a space design consultant and design service provider, specialize for hign-end children’s education brand. From the perspective of education, safety, interaction, technology and business, and by in-depth market analysis of the client brand, VMDPE Design is expert in creating and building market differentiated children’s education and development space. With effective solid work to meet all kinds of difficult hardware and installation design requirements, VMDPE Design is capable of architecture, interior and product development, and is dedicated to achieve the balance of quality, cost and time, to bring and promote the high standard early childhood education space design practice.

Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.

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