Strolling in the front yard while viewing the back yard, you might hear the sound of students reading books. Based on the original intention of inheriting the past and inspiring the new, it is the design vision of the SMS Pingshan Innovation School to continue the traditional sequence of the school space and give shape to the modern campus space with vitality, reshape the teaching order and explore the spatial possibilities.
Located in Pingshan District, Shenzhen, the campus includes a middle school teaching building, a primary school teaching building, an administrative building, a building for sports, art, science, and technological innovation, a sports and cultural complex, as well as a teaching, research and training center. All these buildings are designed to integrate teaching with scientific research training, thus making up an innovative campus that blends traditional academy layout with modern educational demands，which is “a academy in revival.”
Shuyuan or Academies of Classical Learning in English, where educational activities were played out in ancient China, represents the prototype of school building. In the design of this Project, traditional academy spaces are redefined in modern teaching order, thereby empowering abstract traditional space elements to inject vitality into the new campus space. With a goal of producing a favorable academic vibe, the campus is designed in accordance with the standards for designing future schools and in ways that make a stroll in the campus appealing to students. Within the campus are buildings in elegant academic styles, studded with traditional Chinese atriums & courtyards.
The exterior wall is mainly made of ganged bricks interpreting traditional glossaries in new ways. The red ganged bricks create an academic atmosphere and texture that cover the surface of the buildings, allowing the campus spaces to be more colorful and interesting. The delicate masonry structure and natural tones present a lively facade and shows a unique temperament. The light and shadow on the walls, rich but not grim, create the warm and decorous appearance, exhibiting a harmonious and elegant disposition. This is how the humanistic atmosphere is passed down in the campus of SMS Pingshan Innovation school.
The addition of garden landscape into the campus will further enhance the classical atmosphere of the outdoor spaces of the campus. With an aim to achieve multiple functions, the campus is modelled on conventional Chinese academy, where a stroll in the campus brings about a pleasant experience. Each module on the campus is unique in its own way, sometimes open and sometimes interconnected. Each module exhibits a strong sense of independence and belonging, and even a flower represents a different world.
The designer has given priority to creating an academic atmosphere within the campus. Taking a pleasant stroll in the campus, teachers and students can do careful contemplations and exchange ideas with each other. This is the original intention of the design and the ultimate embodiment of values of the campus.
Based on the rethinking of the traditional teaching space, we give more spatial value to the corridor beyond the transportation function, taking into account the pain point of the limited activity range of primary school students.
Some floors of the primary school teaching building consist of one classroom, one hall, and two corridors. One corridor is widened to be included into the movable partition, so that the two constitute a hall, which is an exterior space for the corresponding classroom.
Flexible and movable modular furniture provides an open, flexible and interactive venue for teachers and students, turning the campus into an interconnected community of learning. The spacious corridor is no longer a traditional hallway, for it is equipped with a mobile library, an emotional communication corner, an oral communication corner, a group discussion corner, and an activity corner. Students can find various types of personalized groups and small spaces for learning on different floors and at different corners.
The book corners, mobile book carts, and open libraries scattered around the campus mean that the school will become a ubiquitous library with reading spaces everywhere, full of different books. This innovative design of “One classroom, one hall” satisfies the needs of students at lower grades for performing out-of-classroom activities while placing books and setting up teaching spaces in every corner of the campus.
The atrium dilemma in Lingnan climate. Shenzhen region is hot and rainy, and the difficulty of providing comfortable usage of the atrium as the main open space was one of the designers' troubles. The design team worked with VELUX to develop a temperature-sensitive controllable intelligent skylight system. The breathing atrium is transformed into a living space for interaction.
The weather-free atrium created by the skylight system reshapes the interaction space, promotes indoor air flow, and reasonably extends seasonal ventilation. The intelligent breathing-roof window system could regulate air flow by controlling the openable area of the roof window and ventilating the indoor areas using natural air. At night, when the air conditioner is closed, the outdoor temperature falls within the range of 15-28°C, and the relative humidity is lower than 70%, the exterior window can be opened to achieve natural ventilation, saving costs arising from the use of air-conditioning and mechanical ventilation. This could help create a comfortable space for teachers and students of the school regardless of wind and rain.
This modern interpretation of classical Chinese academy styles provides another possibility for the layout of architectural spaces in the campus. The incremental innovation of teaching space provides teachers and students with greater opportunities to unleash their potentials. The distribution of campus buildings is not only a manifestation of architectural language, but also an emphasis on the original mission of education.