Exploring Fairyland Playscape: When Art Meets Playfulness at K11 Mall

In the bustling Tsim Sha Tsui district of Hong Kong, “Fairyland Playscape”, a creative and interactive art installation, seamlessly merges architecture and “play”, bringing joy and wonder to visitors. The project, commissioned by K11 to celebrate the mall’s tenth anniversary in 2018, transformed the shopping mall basement into a lively Art area – a massive playground made for children and adults alike.

Curated by Groundwork Architects, “Fairyland Playscape” invites individuals of all ages to embark on a journey where imagination knows no bounds and happiness abounds.

Inspired by the mystical landscapes of Yushan 玉山, a mesmerising setting depicted in the regional novel “Journey to the West,” the founder of Groundwork Architects, Manfred Yuen, brought this ethereal place to life within the chi K11 Art Space. Having read the Chinese classic literature at the age of 10, Yuen was captivated by the adventure of the legendary character Monkey King and sought to recreate the enchantment of Yushan in the real world. Reflecting on his inspiration, Yuen shared in an interview with the Hong Kong “Standard,” “We’re all monkeys at heart… Etiquette, rules, and consequences often constrain us, but imagine a space where you can slide, bounce, and embrace your inner wildness.” Yuen firmly believed that even as adults, our innate sense of playfulness yearns to be nurtured.

Spanning over 200 square metres, Fairyland Playscape presents a mountainous landscape adorned with abstracted trompe l’oeil designs and playful zebra patterns, featuring serpentine lines in black and white. This captivating playground, with a maximum height of 2 metres, not only stimulates the senses but also ignites the imagination.

As visitors step into the enchanting realm of “Fairyland Playscape,” they are greeted by a symphony of music composed by Eugene Leung, setting the stage for an immersive sensory experience. The thoughtfully curated lighting meticulously enhances the aesthetic appeal of the space, casting a glow that captivates the imagination. The air resonates with the delightful symphony of laughter as visitors of all ages wholeheartedly immerse themselves in the interactive artwork, engaging in lively bouncing and playful exploration amidst larger-than-life inflatable toy sculptures. Against the backdrop of the mall’s prominent MTR station, the visitors seamlessly transform into animated figures, assuming integral roles as active participants within this dynamic and pulsating work of art. This unique art and architectural masterpiece encourages active participation, where the entirety of the space becomes the “toy” and the participants themselves become part of the artwork. With an emphasis on taking risks and embracing challenges as a source of fun, “Fairyland Playscape” offers a bouncy and exhilarating structure that may surprise participants with its level of difficulty, urging caution while exploring its wonders.

To enhance the play experience, visitors are encouraged to go barefoot, allowing their feet to fully engage with the space. Shoe racks are conveniently provided for storing footwear. As visitors revel in the joyful ambiance, capturing cherished moments is encouraged, inviting them to take plenty of pictures as lasting mementos.

Fairyland Playscape caters to visitors of all ages, offering a “Soft Space” where bouncing, sliding, and playful pranks can be enjoyed. Young visitors are encouraged to embrace calculated risks within the safe environment, creating their own thrilling adventures. Even grown-ups will find themselves transported back to their childhood as they bounce and play on the castle-like structures, experiencing a cooler and more exhilarating version of their past memories. Through these Soft Spaces, Fairyland Playscape aims to evoke joy and fond recollections, reminding everyone of the pure delight found in embracing their inner child.

“Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good.” – Lucia Capocchione.

“Fairyland Playscape” transcends the concept of a traditional playground, serving as a catalyst for contemplating essential societal questions regarding children’s development in urban environments like Hong Kong. Addressing the scarcity of playgrounds catering to older children, this artful installation emerges as a beacon of socialization and creativity. 

Groundwork Architects undertook extensive research on Hong Kong’s existing playgrounds, laying the foundation for this transformative project by emphasizing the significance of play in stimulating children’s imaginations and fostering exploration. Recognizing the limited scope of playgrounds designed solely for children aged 1 to 3 years old, Groundwork envisions inclusive play areas that encourage social interaction. By advocating for the accessibility of play spaces to people of all ages, Groundwork exemplifies its commitment to social and humanistic design, creating innovative and inclusive environments that inspire exploration, creativity, and risk evaluation.

“Fairyland Playscape” at K11 stands as a testament to the transformative power of art and playfulness in shaping cities and communities. It invites visitors on a journey that evokes joy, adventure, and contemplation, leaving them with cherished memories and a renewed appreciation for the boundless potential of creativity in shaping our world. So, as you depart from this enchanting realm, carrying the spirit of “Fairyland Playscape” within you, how will you unleash your inner child and continue to embrace the magic of play in your everyday life?


About “Soft Space”

The “Soft Space” series represents a collection of experiments that go beyond the traditional boundaries of architecture, art, and toys. Through these explorations, we aim to uncover the true essence of joy and happiness that children derive from their interactions with simple materials like pen and paper or a piece of clay. It is not the toy itself that brings happiness, but rather the dynamic engagement between a child and the toy.

“Soft Spaces” have embarked on a tour across various cities in China, including Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Xiongan, Hebei. Each “Soft Space” carries a unique thematic concept, such as “Fairyland Playscape” (2018), “Fish, Cat, Fairyland” (2019), “Art-Toy” (2019), and “Naughty Hills” (2020), providing distinct experiences for visitors at each location.


CLIENT \ K11 https://hk.k11.com/

ADDRESS \ chi K11 art space (B2/F), K11, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

ARCHITECT \ Groundwork, Architects + Associates Ltd. www.groundworkarchitect.com



MUSIC \ Eugene Leung

PHOTOS \ Fiona Bao [email protected]