The Youth Activity Center

  • area / size 67,812 sqft
  • Completed 2020
  • Location Beijing, China,
  • REDe Architects and Moguang Studio were engaged to convert a former factory building into a local youth activity center located in Beizhuang Town of Beijing.

    As urban planning develops in Beijing, urban renewal gradually spreads from the center to the suburban Beizhuang Town. The project site was originally a garment manufacturing factory covering an area of 5,000 sqm in Beizhuang Town. We have retained the original layout of factory buildings, and renovated it into a youth activity center which is comprised of youth education camps along with classroom, restaurant, conference room, and accommodations. The site is divided into two courtyards.

    Children’s Playground
    Abstract geometric components were applied to landscape design, to create a surreal setting for children, who are encouraged to explore possibilities of geometric shapes, conceive stories of adventure, play and have fun in various ways.

    The existing pavement in the north courtyard was covered by hard concrete bricks. We embedded a circular slope and a steel-grid platform into the courtyard, to build a large entertainment installation. It connects the camp area and the restaurant’s rooftop terrace on west and east sides, while allowing kids to run and play at different heights. The platform provides shade for the lawn and activities beneath, which helps strengthen a dramatic feeling. Given the site’s atmosphere and textures of building facades, we chose recycled red bricks and concrete bricks as main paving materials, which are complemented by a rubber running track, together producing playful spaces where kids can run and jump freely.

    In order to liberate children’s perception and imagination, we abandoned conventional forms as conceiving the circular walkway’s structures and the spatial design. Slanting columns were chosen to support the suspended walkway, forming an undulating pattern that resembles “sine waves” in mathematics. Besides, the double-helix structure of the circle is endowed with a precise proportional relationship. In this way, the space offers alternating experiences, either dynamic or static. Moreover, the fire reservoir outlet at the middle of the lawn was designed into a wedge-shaped optical pavilion, which blends the blue sky into the lawn area. The building facades are embellished with geometric color blocks and lines, with a view to evoking kids’ imagination and stimulating them to interact and explore the distinctive venue. We hope this place can help strengthen kids’ sensory perception of nature. As running and playing on the rooftop, they’re embraced by sky and mountains nearby.

    The Youth Activity Center in the North District
    The northern most original brick and reinforced concrete building on the site had few openings, resulting in poor lighting, which did not meet the requirements for contemporary use. Therefore, we removed the original building in the north and placed a row of entrance lobby, which is a single-sided cantilevered structure in the shape of umbrella ribs. It eases the pressure of the mass of the 70-meter-long and 7-meter-high factory building on the street entrance, as well as people’s experience of transition from the north square to the Youth Activity Center. The interior of the lobby is made up of seven inscribing semi-circular glass boxes, which function as the main entrance to the Youth Activity Center, the cafe area and the concept store of creative items, like continuous small settlements. We transformed a series of phenomena such as optical transparency, reflection and refraction into spatial experiences of physics. The continuous glass surface reflects the surrounding environment, making the structure lighter, and extending the view to other dimensions.

    The potential of the internal space of the Youth Activity Center is explored by restructuring the relationship between the exhibition space and the exhibits, with attempts to create a sense of borderlessness for games. It is our hope to create a mixed-age environment for children aged 0-7 to play and learn together. The 7-meter clear height of the original factory space is divided into active and quiet functions according to floor levels, allowing children to enjoy physical games in a circular circulation on the ground floor. At the end of the mezzanine is set up an area for longer activities of creative and intellectual games and teaching. In order to enable children to interact with the space during their activities, we have taken the landscape staircase as the central stage in the layout of the exhibition items, and arranged the steel ramp and the curved staircase along the longitudinal direction of the factory space.

    Architect: REDe Architects and Moguang Studio
    Photography: Xia Zhi