Fengpu Elementary School is located on the west side of Fengxian New City, the suburb of Shanghai. The site was a part of industrial district in past decades, which now is transformed to a new residential area in Fengxian New City. There is a hundreds-years old ginkgo tree within the site, and a small pseudo-classic building built in 1970s. As another project parallel to the school, they are enclosed by a new fence wall, also with a pseudo-classic style, and stay in the school as a kind of enclave.
The design of Fengpu Elementary School is based on two questions. The one is how to do an architecture within a renewal urban area, in its process of transformation. The other is how to create a space for children’s school time in everyday. As a consequence, the architecture is given a spatial complexity and contradiction.
Firstly, the building owns a colorful surface. This feature creates a new identity for the transforming new urban area. On the contrary, color gray is used to the inner spaces to fit with a quiet environment for study. The inside and outside features of the building are strongly different, but permeate into each other.
In the organization of spaces, the design is thinking the double structure in-between study and play, collective and individual, principal and freedom. Classrooms are organized into two courtyards, as a model of collective space, which are set on the east side facing to a quiet stream. Public rooms as library, sports hall, canteen are set on the west side connected to the playground.
A shared platform, where kids can run and play freely, is formed by courtyards on the ground floor and terraces on the first floor. With ramps and free spaces, they together compose an attractive and living after-class environment..
The old ginkgo tree and its pseudo-classic style courtyard are separated from the campus. The architecture of school building does not follow, but coexist in contemporary way. The colorful flat surfaces become the background wall of old neighbor, and an overhanging corridor, with seats facing outside, is designed as a place enjoying the landscape.
The architectural design of Fengpu Elementary School presents architect’s rethinking about the general school environment in China, and also an attitude towards the complex placeness emerging in the process of urban renewal in suburb Shanghai.