celebrating the collective, the intimate, the sustainable, and the local.
This new state school for 2000 year seven to year twelve students is an early project in the new Suzhou Hi-Tech District, located to the south east of the renowned Chinese ancient water town. It is built on existing farmland within the planned green axis of the new district.
park AND school
To enable public continuity of the park the school has been split into two halves. The western half is the boarding facility for 900 students and staff, and canteen for the entire school. The eastern half contains the teaching facilities including library, sports hall, and administration building. Each of the two halves has a central open space connecting to the neighbouring hill and parkland. The open space in the dormitory area is a large triangular lawn capturing a wide cone of vision framing the mountain. The open space in the teaching half forms an axis, lined with buildings and formal rows of trees. These spaces bring the presence of nature into the centres of the school. They will also become popular positive places which embody the collective spirit of the school.
learning from Chang Nan
Following the client’s urban vision of a city rooted in Suzhou culture, this school learns from the architectural organisation found in traditional Chang Nan houses and institutions. The school buildings are sustainable, south facing and slender. North–south circulation is elaborated with roofs and screens which create partial walls and create courtyard spaces; illuminating the ill-defined universal-space which is common in contemporary Chinese schools.
The screened corridors are further articulated to become boundary fences, gateways, and outdoor rooms of various sizes ,providing a multitude of intimate meeting places for groups of students.
The school celebrates a variety of scales from the grand to the intimate.