Eastern Greater Bay Area Experimental School / CMAD Architects
Beginning. As the imbalance between the surge in education demand and the shortage of land in Shenzhen exacerbates, architectural density has been largely increased in campuses. The buildings of primary and secondary schools in Shenzhen have been growing higher, and in some cases, they have exceeded the height limit of 24 meters. Students are most in need of an environment that allows them to stay close to nature. Under the current educational model, the vertical extension of campus buildings simply cuts off the spatial bond between the campus, the community and the nature. The stressful transformation of campus architecture in a density-oriented manner turns into a growth cage for students.
Purpose of the Design under the Extreme Shortage of Land. Located in Pingshan District, the Project is surrounded by an urban village to the south as an experimental school for nine-year compulsory education with 45 classes. The floor area ratio of the project is 3.0, higher than the requirements for general campus buildings. And the Project is designed to re-build that bond despite the extreme shortage of land and high floor area ratio. What the campus should perhaps make up for most as an adapted vessel for children’s growth is – nature.
Design Vision. Building a “More Accessible and User-friendly Pastoral Campus” is the answer to the nature by architectural design. The setback design creates a dynamic feeling, meeting the requirements for building designs under the extreme shortage of land in Shenzhen. By stacking building modules and gardens, the campus provides children with sufficient venues for activities within a limited land area. The high floor area ratio creates a colorful pastoral space, enabling children to study and grow freely and happily.
Stacked Roofs and Setbacks. The campus is designed in a way that encourages the comprehensive utilization of roof spaces. To handle the height differences, the step-like setbacks of the campus buildings produces terraced roof spaces. The “stacked” setbacks conform to the height difference. The south side of the project site is higher than the north side. For this reason, the campus takes the shape of layered terraces to conform to the terrain, and at the same time creates a more interesting roof form.
“Gardens”, an extreme balance between nature and spaces. By building interesting spaces on the roofs, we employed “idyllic” roof and ramp systems of the “book mountains” to build a pastoral campus full of vitality. This not only responds to the shortage of land, but also respects the natural scenery of the original landform of the site.
A Stroll in the Pastoral Space. All the elements, including interesting and continuous ramps, terraced platforms, colorful green areas, and special “wooden houses”, constitute a “pastoral space with stacked roofs”, connecting 3 to 6 floors of roofs and facades. As the activity space for primary and secondary school students, the roofs are continuously arranged but independent of each other, creating a comfortable and pleasant “idyllic oasis”. The teaching space in the “wooden rooms” on the roofs is in a fairy style with the open space being used as venues for a wide variety of interesting activities, such as mixed classes or geographic science course. Some roofs are transformed into a practice base for labor classes, enabling students to learn by doing. A wonderful roof greening landscape is built together with the rich planting system, allowing the roof spaces to be utilized in a variety of different ways.
Multidimensional Campus. Given the extreme shortage of land, the space is economized by arranging buildings in the campus vertically. Considering the height difference in the terrain, a primary school entrance and a secondary school entrance are set up on the Laokeng Road and the Dankeng Road respectively, forming an overhead corridor. The corridor houses classrooms for music, art, dance and other majors, creating vitality in the campus culture and providing a spacious are for evacuation and pick up waiting at the entrance.
Classrooms on the standard floor are designed with double corridors and large depths, providing students with a convenient and wide space for inter-class activities. The campus is also clearly divided into two areas featuring dynamic and static activities, with the former being a 3-story overhead complex for cultural and sports activities, including gymnasium, lecture hall, stormproof playground, comprehensive sports hall, and canteen, while the latter mainly covers the teaching area, and primary and secondary school libraries, etc. Facing the city parks on the east and north, the two-story overhead corridor allows students to see green scenery in the parks. The interaction between the campus space and the city park, combined with the regular and tidy facades along the street, creates a comfortable and harmonious urban interface.
Epilog. A comfortable pastoral space can only be created within an extreme balance between project sites and functions. The campus we want to build should not only a space for education. More importantly, it should be a paradise housing our childhood memory. This sort of campus represents a return to the nature and highlights the maximized utilization of the limited land area. This restructuring of campus spaces has fulfilled the original purpose of the Eastern Bay Area Experimental School to build a beautiful space for students, and to grant children an idyllic place to grow up amid the concrete jungles in the city.