Pony School

  • area / size 161,459 sqft
  • Completed 2023
  • Location Xinyang, China,
  • L&M Design Lab created a colorful and minimal space for creativity at the Pony School in Xinyang, China.

    As a microcosm of the intense residential development that is commonly occurring in county units, this school in Xinyang Huangchuan County, Henan Province, is surrounded by high-rise residential neighborhoods on an extremely compact site. Walking into it, one feels as if one has returned to the high-rise buildings of the big city, oblivious to the vast fields that lie just a kilometer or two away.

    The new campus, enclosed on three sides, seems to be a cage, isolating the leisure and nature of small county life.

    As the original building was nearly completed, the design could only unfold like a loach drilling tofu in order to control costs and avoid waste as much as possible. This is a renovation that races against time and fights against boredom. Under the circumstance that the building shape, pattern and area are almost unchangeable, the original orderly school is salvaged into a paradise that will be loved by the children.

    A blue pony runs into this elementary school, wearing a Red Armillary Sash for a full day of play, and is currently sleeping soundly, revealing his adorable little hooves. The Red Armillary Sash is a clever thread that connects the main public spaces of the elementary school.

    A Pony For You
    The U-shaped layout of the building encloses a second-floor rooftop terrace that was once a passive void. The design transforms it into an undulating children’s playground and brings it to life with zebra stripes.

    Looking down from the classroom, the sleeping ponies are gentle and sweet, using their bodies to provide a safe and fun place for the children to play during recess. As he sleeps so soundly and relaxes so much, one of his hooves unknowingly stretches out into the distance, accidentally stepping out of the entrance of a unique multi-purpose hall.

    Changes in the “Red Armillary Sash”
    Legend has it that the “Red Armillary Sash” have the power to turn the world upside down with their many variations.

    While the pony sleeps, it plays around the grounds, imagining buildings wherever it goes, and gaining a new connection with the elementary school and kindergarten buildings that were previously inaccessible to each other.

    In the original design, the school had almost no public areas. The design squeezes out a foyer, where the “red armillary sash” is a dynamic slide. As a fast track to the end of the school day, it gives every child the happiest moment of the day.

    And the “Red Armillary Sash” next to the playground is a sturdy and robust staircase, which, as the outdoor transportation with the best view, gives the children the possibility to catch every precious moment on the playground.

    Memories of the countryside
    The campus colonnade and courtyards use red brick, the most common and inexpensive building material in the area, saving money and grounding the campus. The same concept is continued in the event space, where earthbags, gravel, grass, red bricks and painted patterns are used to keep costs under control while allowing the campus to break free of the concrete cage and blend into the countryside.

    Design: L&M Design Lab
    Design Team: Liu Jinrui, Zou Mingxi, Cheng Miao, Xie Shunbing, Li Jiayan, Li Chunyao, Liu Minghao, Guan Haoting, Liu Yiming, Hou Xiaohang, Zou Chengxin, Xiao Luoqin, Chen Zixi, Lv Wufan, Song Xinyi, Lu Yuyao, Wan Yuetong
    Design Consultant: Shen Peng
    Project Manager: Guo Lan
    Photography: Zhu Qingyan