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Planting Dreams

A children’s playground, Meland Club in Shenzhen, China, blurs the boundaries between imagination and experience.

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FOR SOME PROJECTS, the sky’s the limit. And it was just that for Meland Club – the Garden in Four Seasons – in Shenzhen, China, designed by X+Living (Shanghai). With demand for one-of-a-kind consumer experiences higher than ever, even a children’s play area must offer an unforgettable and immersive encounter. This space is “whimsical, unexpected, imaginative,” the meeting of Pixar-esque shapes and colors with ultra-modern materials to create a playground that’s reminiscent of a vivid dream.

“Meland Club is located in southeast China, which doesn’t see four distinctive seasons,” explains Li Xiang, Founder and Architect at X+Living. “We decided to create a garden that enables local children to experience seasons in a fairytale world.”

children’s playground, Meland Club in Shenzhen, China

Bright colors, intricate patterns and larger-than-life installations are designed to entice adults and children alike to explore the playscape.

The 64,500-square-foot playground is divided into four distinct areas – spring, summer, fall, winter – with sub-genres within, from a circus-themed ball pit to a “cyberpunk palace” gaming hall. As children and parents wind their way through this wonderland, they’re greeted on all sides by larger-than-life flowers, butterflies and bees. “We integrated functionality with various installations to complement the aesthetic and create an immersive experience, making accessories such as cabinets, flower-shaped sofas, light fittings and speakers hidden in plant bulbs, perfectly fit into the theme of the space,” says Xiang.

It’s not all style and no substance though, this is first and foremost a space to play. “By building a three-layer platform in the double-height space, we could divide it into different playgrounds for various age groups and activities,” Xiang explains. “To utilize the vertical space, we added exciting activities such as rope climbing and a rotating slide to enrich the playfulness of the playground.”

Visitors to Meland Club are encouraged to suspend disbelief entirely when they enter. Xiang explains with the space built within an existing mall, “the original depth and width of the space were insufficient, so implementing large-scale installations would have created a sense of crowding. In order to guarantee comfort for customers and attract passersby, we expanded the entrance as a display window. For a consistent experience, we pulled the ‘spring’ theme from the main atrium to the reception area with a themed welcome desk.” The seamlessness of the theme is built layer upon layer throughout the space, so the fantasy isn’t broken for children or their parents, even in the autumnal restaurant.

Such an ambitious project called for innovation in construction as well as design. “One of the design highlights of this project is the use of materials. For the first time, we used a wide range of glass fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP) combined with soft packaging to make indoor props and create the appearance and texture of a fairytale land. We also carefully planned the layout, so the space was not only dazzling, but also rich in surprising details,” says Xiang.

A truly unique concept in even China’s diverse design landscape, “Meland Club represents a big step forward in both visual and spatial experience,” Xiang says.

PHOTO GALLERY (5 IMAGES)

Georgia Mizen is a contributing writer at VMSD magazine.

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