Nubo Indoor Play Center by PAL Design Group: 2017 Best of Year Winner for Small Primary Education
It was a Best of Year winner published in 2013, Joey Ho Design Limited’s Spring Learning preschool in Hong Kong, that caught the eye of entrepreneurs looking to open an early-childhood center thousands of miles away, across the Pacific Ocean. It turned out that, in the intervening time, Joey Ho had become design partner at another firm. The entrepreneurs tracked him down there and commissioned him for the long-distance project. Thanks to video conferencing and four site visits, the facility was built out over a 15-month period.
His cliché-busting design abandons gaudy colors and plastic toys, things he calls “the result of adults superimposing their own perspective.” Instead, he favored lots of white, accented with pastels and oak veneer. Arched doors, in child and adult sizes, are clear glass, allowing parents to peer in at what their offspring are up to.
The 8,200 square feet encompass climbing ropes, slides, and a ball pit; rooms for teacher-led activities; and a café where parents can take a breather, “flat white” coffee in hand. Whimsy abounds, as in the elevated reading nook styled as a hot-air balloon. There’s nary a straight line in sight. Instead, curves rule, notably Ho’s signature ice-cream drip. Taking the form of mirrors that appear to slip down restroom walls, the motif was also a feature at Spring Learning.
Project Team: Patrick Leung; Joslyn Lam.