SAKO Architects adorns Kaleidoscope kindergarten in China with colourful glass

Hundreds of polychromatic glass elements injected in a solid white volume gives form to a giant rotating kaleidoscope in the Chinese city of Tianshui.

by Zohra Khan Published on : May 07, 2020

In the Tianshui city of China, a kindergarten is adorned by hundreds of polychromatic openings in semi-circular and arched shapes. A project by Beijing-based SAKO Architects, the three-storey school appears like a giant rotating kaleidoscope in which interiors wondrously transform as light and shadow alternate through the day.

Colourful semi-circular openings make up the facade of the school | Kaleidoscope in Tianshui | SAKO Architects | STIRworld
Colourful semi-circular openings make up the facade of the school Image Credit: CreatAR Images

The brief dictated the design of a non-profit kindergarten for a building developer company called SOHO China, whose chairman (Pan Shiyi) wanted to build a school in his hometown.

SAKO Architects, which has previously used colour as an integral element in many of their projects, decided to approach the brief using rainbow-hued glass. “Our goal is to inspire the infinite creativity of children through this impressive building as children grow up,” says the firm led by Japanese architect Keiichiro Sako.

The play of light, colour and shadow | Kaleidoscope in Tianshui | SAKO Architects | STIRworld
The play of light, colour and shadow Image Credit: CreatAR Images

Polychromatic openings, inspired from the Yaodong style of local earthen dwellings, stand out as a key element in the school. “To practice the concept, the team arranged the windows in different sizes with scattered positions that make the building look like a birthday cake,” adds the architecture firm.

The central atrium | Kaleidoscope in Tianshui | SAKO Architects | STIRworld
The central atriumImage Credit: CreatAR Images

The architecture resonates freshness and vibrancy as 438 pieces of 10 different hues line the doors and windows of the façade, the study areas as well as the handrails of corridors and stairs. The semi-circular openings dot the top section of the doors and windows, which can also be seen on the façade of the school.

Minimal wooden furnishing in the classrooms   | Kaleidoscope in Tianshui | SAKO Architects | STIRworld
Minimal wooden furnishing in the classrooms Image Credit: CreatAR Images

A large atrium sits at the centre of the school. The architecture gives form to walls, corridors and criss-cross staircases all painted in white along with minimal wooden furnishing and simple geometric shapes carried out in the interiors. The playful use of colour renders a compelling yet subtle contrast to the otherwise bare spaces.

The glazed skylight lets in natural light within the space | Kaleidoscope in Tianshui | SAKO Architects | STIRworld
The glazed skylight lets in natural light within the spaceImage Credit: CreatAR Images

Natural light plays an important role in the interiors. Filtering in through the glazed skylight, it falls on the polychromatic glasses and gives way to a litany of coloured shadows that overlap onto each other and in turn, reveal completely new shades.

Simple geometric shapes create an open learning space for children  | Kaleidoscope in Tianshui | SAKO Architects | STIRworld
Simple geometric shapes create an open learning space for children Image Credit: CreatAR Images

SAKO Architects also made use of light to completely turn around the space in relation to the presence and absence of it. “In the daytime, the sunlight sheds into the classroom through the coloured glass, forming colourful lights and shadows that evoke children's imagination and creativity while at night, in contrast, the glowing lights from the interior emit out of the windows that create an impressive and beautiful night scene,” adds the firm.

Polychromatic glass lining the handrail | Kaleidoscope in Tianshui | SAKO Architects | STIRworld
Polychromatic glass lining the handrail Image Credit: CreatAR Images

A playground on the rooftop encompasses the same language that has been followed in the interiors, overlook the rolling hills of the city.

Named aptly, the Kaleidoscope kindergarten doubles as a playful landscape where light, shapes and colours come together to create a world of its own. The school aims to become ‘a landmark for the city’ and a fluid space for children that fosters creativity and a sense of solidarity.

Rooftop garden | Kaleidoscope in Tianshui | SAKO Architects | STIRworld
Rooftop garden Image Credit: CreatAR Images

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