communities as schools and schools as communities: Networks School – Zhangjian
From the age of seven Chinese school children are doing more than three hours homework nightly. By the end of high school many students are attending classes from 7am to 10pm and have classes on both Saturdays and Sundays. Parents complain that they never see their children. The children are gone before they get up and the children get home after they have gone to bed.
The smallness of this site was treated as an opportunity to create a condition of complexity for the social, intellectual and psychological benefit for the students. By covering half of the spaces between the buildings a network of internal streets and open courtyards has been created. The three north-south internal streets have the potential to support events of all scales. This network is a highly used series of space where children, most of them from single child families, have the opportunity to interact with students of different levels.
Exposure to extra-curricular activities is seen as the most effective method of developing curiosity and encouraging participation in a variety of programs. Activities including music, dance, sports, drama, and visual art are visible and can open to the internal street network for events and exhibitions. These in-between spaces are a place of unpredictability, relief and potential freedoms.