Cool Spaces: Red Dunes Playtopia by XISUI Design

WORDS Cheri Wolf PHOTOS Hu Yihao of XISUI Design

Rippling undulations of concrete in an epic colour-way emulate mini mountains and jungle treehouses, beckoning people of all ages to climb, jump, roll and run.

Located in Guanggang New Town, China, Red Dunes Playtopia is a wonder of topography by XISUI Design that combines advanced design techniques, including parameterised design, drainage optimisation simulation and structural form-finding algorithms, to blend outdoor play and natural surrounds.

Red Dunes Playtopia by XISUI Design

Referring to the load transfer mechanism of natural arches, the design allows for wide spans and thin structural elements. By blending harmoniously with its setting, Red Dunes creates a visually cohesive artificial structure, minimizes the need for columns, and maximizes spatial efficiency. 

Using digital generation techniques, the landscape was shaped to match the intricacies in slope and slant of the foundational terrain. The result of which is age-specific zones to suit everyone from little to long-lived. The interruption of visible drain systems was careful avoided through a natural drainage system that handles rainwater with ease, despite the meandering terrain. It flows naturally to soak into green spaces and designated outlets.

According to the team, the formability, cost-effectiveness, and practicality of concrete makes it key not only for this picturesque playtopia but for green architecture and the evolution of organic structures at large. In this project alone, calculations, modelling analysis and material efficiency allowed for approximately two-thirds less raw material consumption for the same span compared to conventional beam-column structures.

Looking for more architectural inspiration? Sign up to our weekly newsletter, here.