• Playdot family centre in the heart of CWB

    28 May 2024

    Build4Asia Awards 2024 – Winner

    Rakoon Design Ltd (Rakoon) created Playdot, a family center located in the heart of CWB. Situated in a 700sqm office space within Lee Garden 2, Playdot is designed with inspiration from nature and constructed using high-quality, sustainable lumber. The center offers expansive and adaptable play areas spanning over 700 sqm, providing a welcoming environment for children of all ages, along with their parents and caregivers.

    Rakoon was commissioned by Hysan to convert a 700 sqm office space into a family play area, serving as a haven for families in the bustling city center of Causeway Bay. Our objective was to design a space that would welcome families with children of all ages, fostering a sense of community and lasting connections. In the dynamic and vibrant main shopping district of Hong Kong, it is essential to create havens of peace and tranquillity for children and families. To achieve this, we prioritized meeting the needs of all family members. Children, parents, grandparents, and caregivers should feel that the space provides them with the opportunity to spend quality time with their loved ones while engaging playfully with their community.

    Hysan aimed to provide this space for their customers. Whether you are a tenant within the Lee Garden properties or a customer shopping or dining in Lee Garden or Hysan Plaza, you will have access for your family to enjoy the play facilities at Playdot in Lee Garden 2.

    Our project is characterized by three main design elements. Firstly, we are creating bespoke playrooms with wooden play structures that cater to both children and adults. These structures are designed to encourage the physical, mental, and social development of children, providing a sensory-filled and spacious learning environment. We use authentic natural materials with strong ‘touch and feel’ qualities to offer diverse, haptic stimuli, ensuring that our work meets all safety, ecological, and developmental requirements for children.

    Secondly, open space is a key element in our design of Playdot. We have created a versatile space with movable walls to separate areas and enhance communication and collaboration during play. This design allows for the creation of additional rooms for events and classes when needed, while also providing a seating area that overlooks the play space and can be used for performances, lectures, and seminars. Finally, we have chosen mainly real wood components to achieve a natural feel and promote the calming aspects of a natural environment. Our materials are sourced from Germany and are toxin-free, including whole trees (Robinia/Black Locust) and Baltic Birch.

    We selected fabrics and carpet from high-end suppliers to mimic grass and moss, while keeping the colour choices as close to nature as possible. The combination of spotlights and coloured glasses allowed us to fill the space with playful and colourful shadows and shades. Additionally, the seating area is strategically positioned to overlook the entire play space, providing a vantage point for watching performances on the small integrated stage, as well as hosting lectures and seminars for children, parents, or companies renting space in Lee Garden.

    Our material selection aims to replicate an outdoor park, providing a vast grass area that allows children and families to experience a day in the park amid the Causeway Bay shopping area. This offers families the chance to take a break from the bustling environment of Causeway Bay during their shopping or other activities. Families can plan a full day in Causeway Bay with shopping and dining while still enjoying a playful afternoon in a park-like play space.

    The structure and space are designed with the latest educational development know-how, aiming to give children the opportunity to be independent and self-sufficient, allowing them to become the architects of their own environment.

    Collaboration with universities and experts in education, safety, woodworking, and community development from around the world ensures that best practices and innovation are implemented into our designs. All play structures were built by our partner carpentries in Germany but installed by our own team of local woodworking professionals who have been trained to provide the safest and highest standards for our designs.

    One of the key objectives was for our customers to feel the calm and relaxing environment in the moment they entered the center, coming from the city and the office building floors. To achieve this, we created a long corridor with wooden arches opening into the spacious reception area and playroom.

    The calm colour choices, the combination natural lights and well-placed spotlights complemented the feeling of immediate relaxation.

    The spotlights were placed to interact with the structure and colourful glasses to create a mystical experience for the children and are adding a marbling effect to the wooden structures. The design aimed for an open space while ensuring that people would not feel lost in its vastness. Meandering pathways were designed to guide children through different play spaces, defining and connecting the areas and their various functions. Connectivity between the areas was crucial in achieving the desired play experience.

    The design aimed to break away from traditional overly coloured / overstimulating playroom designs. It also goes against the overly padded playrooms, instead encouraging a philosophy of trusting in the child’s ability to navigate through challenges, while still adhering to strict European safety standards (DIN1176). We have designed a playroom that allows children to fully explore and maximise their sensory experience, while keeping safe.

    Designing Green

    It is our passion for our work and love for the city that has led us to incorporate sustainability into all aspects of this project. We have ensured that all our wood is sourced from Germany and is PEFC certified (Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). Additionally, our fabrics and carpets are members of the SFA (Sustainable Fiber Alliance) and adhere to the LEED system (“Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”). Our fall protection mats are made from recycled XPE Foam Residue. Furthermore, all leftover materials, from packaging of the wooden structure to cutaways of the wood on-site, will be reused for future projects or training of our young woodworking professionals.

    We hope that this project serves as a catalyst for encouraging more firms and young professionals to prioritize sustainability in projects throughout our city.

    In a bustling and stressful environment like Hong Kong, characterized by noise and light pollution, there is a tendency to overstimulate the senses of not only children but also adults. Therefore, we believe it is crucial to create oases of peace and tranquillity for families. The selection of materials and the design and setup of the space are intended to provide families with quality time in a natural and serene environment. By fostering the ability of children to play in a calm setting, we aim to provide them with opportunities to be creative, learn to communicate, collaborate effectively, and to be part of a greater community.

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