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Bunnies in Burrowland

Yufeng Liao, Lanting Jing, Fan Zhan

There are 6.97 million “left-behind” children in China. Their parents left hometowns to work in China’s big cities when they were very young, leaving them behind without parental care from an early age. Most of them are brought up by their grandparents or relatives, or even by their neighbours. The largest number of “left-behind” children is found in Sichuan province. We conducted a field study in the rural-urban bordering area of Cuiping District, where there are more than 7,000 “left-behind” children. Due to the lack of parental support and educational resources, these children suffer from character defects, depression, violent tendencies, resentment towards their parents and confusion about their future. We designed Bunnies in Burrowland to address these issues.

Bunnies in Burrowland is a subterranean healing building modelled on a rabbit hole. Its overall spatial relationship from top to bottom takes the form of being open to being semi-open and being private. The space is filled with plenty of play space for children to immerse and discover themselves. The aim is to guide the children to gradually open themselves up through the playfulness of the space.

Bunnies in Burrowland has three thematic flowlines that address the many issues that arise for “left-behind” children.
1. Family Affection Flowline
2. Education Flowline
3. Self Cognition Flowline

Theme Flowline 1: Affection Theme
The affection theme flowline is divided into two parts: One is a warm shelter space, and the other is a functional behavior space. The first three small spaces are sheltered spaces that imitate the nest form through the compression of space and soft materials, giving children an embrace, creating a sense of security for children to compensate for the instability caused by the lack of affection. The behavior space is the space connected by the 2-story photo gallery. The purpose of the space is to provide psychological guidance for children through external means, and then to gradually guide children to face their own feelings and to explore the right direction of affection.

Theme Flowline 2: Educational Theme
The educational theme flowline is set up to learn knowledge through games, so as to discover children’s talents and guide them to make future career planning. The first floor space is set up with talent display area, academic lecture area, shared farming area and sports game area in order to tap their talents in art, expression, nurturing, guarding and sports. The second floor space is mainly set up as a library, where there are abundant subject books and learning aids, as well as relevant teachers for guidance. At the same time, children can also act as librarians to develop their management and cooperative skills. On the third floor, there are four fun laboratories, namely, optical laboratory, acoustics laboratory, astronomy lounge and sports agility room, which are fun and educational areas.
Theme Flowline 3: Self Cognition Theme
Constrained by the level of physical and mental development, especially the level of language development, it is difficult for children to fully express their negative experiences in their growth process. When the backlog of negative emotions or experiences exceeds the threshold range of their own control, children may develop some degree of behavioral abnormality or psychological disorder. In the self cognition flowline, children can do what they are not allowed to do at ordinary times. Through sandbox games and drawings, scenarios of traumatic events can be slowly introduced to help children realize that “they can heal themselves” through scenario reenactment so that they can talk to their subconscious mind, understand their deep needs and invisibly release the stress and negative emotions from their life. At the same time, team sandbox games are added to cultivate children’s sense of companionship and fill the gaps of affection through companionship and games.

Bunnies in Burrowland Wandering in Wonderland:
In this space created for the mental health of left-behind children, we can heal the spiritual world of children from three aspects: Family Affection, Education and Self Cognition. Children are no longer confined t o the unsatisfactory reality and boring square box, but have a physical and mental tour in this Wonderful, imaginative space.

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