Loong Swim Club, Suzhou, China

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We like many aspects of the fantastic Loong Swim Club for parents and children recently completed in a new building in Suzhou, China.

Some of the positive points are easy to see: The Alice-in-Wonderland look, the soft colours, the friendly and whimsical overall feel, the clever detailing, the attention to the needs of both kids and adults .

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The designer of the space is Li Xiang of X + Living a company she founded in 2011.

In Loong Swim Club, with her key team members Fan Chen and Zhang Wenji she has created yet another design tour de force of concept-driven environments.

Xiang went to school in Malaysia and studied in the U.K. and she travels extensively. She’s an admirer of Antonio Gaudi’s work. All of this, and a slate of clients with extremely deep pockets and an understanding of creative freedom, has given her the stage to produce some remarkable retail design work.  

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Anyone who has followed her career has witnessed her ability to create huge, whimsical environments such as the bookstores we have featured.

In the case of the Loong Swim CLub, in addition to its overall fantasy concept that accommodates both children and parents, we love the idea of providing children something this grand. Yes, its pink and baby blue and cute and decorative and child-like, but it is also a statement: Children are important. As important as adults.

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We love the fact that it is not just for swimming and swim lessons either, but also for sitting around a table and eating, for reading, for playing. Unhurried enjoyment while learning something new.

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Unlike so many ordinary swimming establishments, this is not a chlorine-wafting, semi-cold, echo-y and scary space clearly designed for adults with perhaps a slight nod to children via a dirty wading pool.

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And although we do not quite fathom how this type of establishment could generate a profit – even if it were a high-ticket membership club – we cheer its purpose and bravery. Perhaps there is a bigger purpose here than profit; perhaps the purpose of the investment is children and the future.

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Going all out to let children be curiouser and curiouser about water and swimming in an environment that is enjoyable for them and their parents cannot be but a good thing. Tuija Seipell.

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Loong Swim Club, Suzhou, China

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