After more than a decade of "school abolition" in China, the number of rural primary schools have been drastically reduced, and a large number of unused campuses and assets have emerged, making the waste of architectural space a problem. As a space in the special value context of the times, the rural primary school has integrated many memories and aspirations of the past. It should not be reduced to a value depression and continue to be abandoned, or raze the old site to the ground with the passage of time, completely erasing its era mark.
How to rethink the development direction and positioning of such buildings in the field of modern society, to give them a new identity, and to explore the way of co-construction of environment, architecture and people is an important issue in the current study of urban and rural renewal.
Shajin Primary School, located in Shajin Village, Yubei District, Chongqing, was built in the late 1980s.As a former rural primary school, it was abandoned in the early 21st century, which is now administratively divided into the scope of the Two New Rivers New District. When I first visited this site, it was overgrown and full of weeds, like a dusty, old man in old clothes.It has obviously been abandoned for a long time.The old house became a symbol of backwardness and dilapidation, and was given an inferiority complex, seemingly "out of place" in modern society.
The main body of the original building is a three-story brick and concrete structure with a rectangular layout, 39.6m long from north to south, 8m wide from east to west, and 3.6m high on each floor, with two floors of attached rooms. Nowadays, in the context of the upper planning of Chongqing Liangjiang Synergistic Innovation Zone, the planning of Mingyue Lake area plans to transform it into a museum for the relocation of universities in the Great Rear of the Resistance War and supporting public service space.
Through the opportunity of this renewal, we hope to fully rely on the superior ecology of the site, which is surrounded by mountains and water, integrate natural and cultural elements into the design, replace the monotonous and abandoned functional space and break the dull and symmetrical architectural forms, and create a composite space of overlapping, open and diversified in this cultural container carrying memories, so as to meet the needs of people's physical and spiritual rejuvenation on the one hand. On the one hand, it will meet the needs of people's physical and spiritual rejuvenation, and on the other hand, it will enhance the cultural communication power of the area, thus driving the overall development of the Two Rivers Collaborative Innovation Zone.
It is expected that a long lost form of rural public space will be conceived and presented here
The primary school is located in a quiet and mountainous area on the shore of Mingyue Lake , surrounded by water on three sides and backed by mountains. The east, west and north sides of the site are adjacent to the lake, with a wide view of the lake. A new boat dock has been installed on the southwest side of the site. When the morning light dawns, boats will be swaying on the lake and the surface will be rippling, recreating the distant mood of ancient Chinese literati landscape paintings. In addition to coming from the lake, one can also drive along the lake road to the south side of the site and follow a winding path to the entrance of the site, surrounded by tall evergreen trees and the lake surface to enclose an irregular area.
In the face of such poetic natural site characteristics, we hope to adopt modest site treatment strategies, adjust measures to local conditions, and follow the trend, so that the reconstructed and updated space resonates with the original natural ecology, so as to organically connect the building with the site, nature and city.
First of all, in the whole site on the east side, the original playground is used to form the relationship between the upper and lower platforms, and a ramp is placed to connect the two. The upper platform is connected with the main entrance of the building, while the lower platform has a good leisure atmosphere and a wide view of the waterfront. As a venue for public open activities, it complements the lack of hydrophilicity of the original building.
Secondly, due to the height difference of about 6.6 meters between the platform where the Central Plains building is located and the water shoreline, we introduce five staggered observation platforms on the west side of the building to connect the high and low terrains. On the one hand, we strengthen the dialogue between them, so that the building naturally conforms to the topographic conditions; On the other hand, people's line of sight is guided hierarchically to create a transitional public roaming experience.
In the consideration of the landscape design of the site, the design team hoped to uphold the concept of natural restoration and ecological restoration, respect the native environment, and express the unique flavor and mood of the site through a reasonable and restrained design while preserving the original landform of the site.
At the beginning of the design, it was decided to preserve all the bamboo forests and large trees in the northwest peninsula of the site, as well as a row of trees along the waterfront on the east side of the site. In the selection of plants for the site, we try to use original and wild grasses and trees, natural reeds and barberry to add bright and vivid tones to the space, low shrubs hidden in the forest, supplemented by fresh and elegant flowers, calamus, aquatic plantain, dry umbrella grass, barracuda and other plants for embellishment, shaping the relationship between the patches of suitable for waterfront growth, with the wild and easy to move.
In a poetic way, we respond to the cascading cultural imprints in the environment, with the aim of creating a quiet and elegant place where the paths are open to the public, and where wildness and Zen coexist, thus giving it a new vitality.
The main body of the original building was a three-story brick and concrete structure with a dull and symmetrical form and poor quality grade, which needed to be effectively reinforced for many structural weaknesses.
The architect chose to adopt the structural strategy of "light intervention" to coordinate the relationship between the old and new structures, to break the dull symmetry, to enrich the form of the building space, and to match the temperament of the newly implanted functions. The specific approach is to excavate the foundation of the new steel structure 800mm away from the outer wall on both sides, and build a new "door" shaped frame steel structure system, so that it not only laps and integrates with the original volume, but actually bears the load independently, without disturbing the original structure.
The new steel structure system not only meets the functional needs of the new stairs, platforms and toilets, but also provides a variety of possibilities for the expression of the facade. In order to enhance the richness of the spatial interface on the entrance side of the exhibition hall and to meet the demand for shelter from wind and rain, a continuous folded sloping roof is added to the roof of the east entrance to form the gray space of the entrance gallery, increasing the sense of ritual of entering the space while softening the rigid indoor-outdoor boundary of the original building facing the public open area.
In addition, the architect introduces wood-colored "bamboo steel" wrapped around the renovated building as a construction material and decorative material to combine blocks and surfaces, and to delineate a clear hierarchy with the original main body. The transformed building space is both a container of time and an anchor point between the past and the present, where the solidification and flow of time and the reproduction and continuation of memory intersect and are fixed.
"The building is not the making of things, but the creation of events along the daily life to connect people". The remodeled building is a vain attempt to depart from the theme of grand narrative and embody the interest of the everyday in subtle ways, with the aim of creating a subtle connection with visitors both perceptually and visually. The use of borrowed scenery in the architecture is an important line of thinking in this design.
At the entrance of the site on the east side, there is a ramp of about 1.5 meters wide and 30 meters long, connecting the upper and lower terraces with a difference in height, and at the end of the ramp, a strong old tree from the original site is preserved, forming a mutual view with a row of trees on the shore. At the same time, standing on the staircase platform on the second floor of the interior can directly see the landscape arrangement at the entrance of the building, forming a relationship between seeing and being seen. The interior space of the building adopts the technique of borrowing from afar, looking out indoors and feeling "countless mountains far and near". The scenery changes step by step, and the scenery is everywhere.
In order to break the original dull and symmetrical spatial form and enrich the skyline silhouette. The three floors of the building are embedded with staggered and rhythmically changing wooden sloping roof boxes, which are both a tribute to the traditional form and an innovative form after abstraction. The surface of the top volume adopts the hazy treatment method of alternating virtual and real. The wood grille and glass curtain wall are used as new materials to enhance the virtual and real contrast of the building. The uncovered parts are removed and the original tiles are replaced with yellow gray plastering to retain the memory of the original building and increase the sense of surface cortex.
The basic idea of the renovation design is to preserve its unique and intrinsic characteristics, to stimulate the characteristics of the place, and to use a variety of techniques to achieve the purpose of blending the old with the new, and to realize the dialogue between space and history.
The current first floor space assumes the function of disseminating cultural and historical information, where visitors can learn about the historical facts of the westward migration of colleges and universities during the War of Resistance, which is a collision of the past history and the present space and another continuation of the educational function of the rural elementary school, strengthening the sense of historical superposition and spatial richness of the site. The second floor of the building utilizes the large space of the original classroom as a participatory functional space for youth training, culture and art lecture hall and multimedia meeting room. The third floor of the building is a tea room and a small meeting room, combining the current space with the needs of visitors.
The original Shajin Primary School has only one vertical staircase in the middle, which cannot meet the existing evacuation and functional requirements. Therefore, we disposed the steel structure staircase at the enlarged nodes of the north and south sides of the building to provide visitors with a clear line of sight, so that they can form a three-dimensional roaming path with the stacked platforms and the original building traffic body, thus realizing the free flow in the vertical design.
In addition, the existing toilets and kitchen on the north side were demolished and rebuilt, and a panoramic café with a clear line of sight was inserted to meet the diversified needs of visitors and tourists, and to make such a seemingly rigid educational base more diversified, vibrant and attractive.
The idle and abandoned Shajin Primary School, once a basic education facility for children in the countryside, was transformed into an exhibition hall for the citizens of Chongqing to publicize the dramatic history of the relocation of colleges and universities to the rear during the war. From the original function of rural education to the current historical exhibition education, it is not only a replacement of function and revival of space, but also a heritage of culture and the continuation of the spirit of space.
The rural primary school makes full use of its good renovation conditions to renew its new face, and the ultimate result is not only the renewal of existing buildings, but also the reflection on future urban and rural development, the preservation and transmission of culture, the creation of traditional skills, the establishment of regional cultural confidence, and the activation of local life are all unique beyond the material space of the building itself.
Over the years, we have been exploring the theoretical aspects and summarizing the design approaches, as well as the feedback after the completion of past renovation and renewal projects, providing us with a new round of discussion and reflection. The ultimate thing that cannot be forgotten in the renovation of rural primary school is the public attribute of the past space, and the service object is still the human.A series of explorations and attempts in the design process of architects should be based on the premise of "protection", which is unchanged.
We hope that in the future, through the modest efforts of our architects, we can show the new face of rural primary school in this era. Education is the starting point for changing the countryside by interrupting the intergenerational transmission of poverty, the intervention of architects is the key to rewrite the code of rural genes. The retention of physical space is the gaze and remembrance of past years, while the memory space is the taste of mountains, wind, sunshine, time and human feelings.