Located at a remote village, Fujian Province in China, the project does not only provides a physical function - a school + a bridge, but also presents a spiritual centre. The main concept of the design is to enliven an old community (the village) and to sustain a traditional culture (the castles and lifestyle) through a contemporary language which does not compete with the traditional, but presents and communicates with the traditional with respect. It is done by combining few different functions into one space – a bridge which connects two old castles cross the creek, a school which also symbolically connects past, current with future, a playground (for the kids) and the stage (for the villagers).
A light weight structure traverse a small creek in a single, supple bound, essentially, it is an intelligent contemporary take on the archetype of the inhabited bridge. Supported on concrete piers (which also has the function of a small shop), the simple steel structure acts like a giant box girder that’s been slightly dislocated, so the building subtly twists, rises and falls as it spans the creek. Inside are a pair of almost identical. Wedge-shaped classrooms, each tapering towards the mid point of the structure (which holds a small public library). Although it’s possible to use the building as a bridge, a narrow crossing suspended underneath the steel structure and anchored by tensile wires offers an alternative and more direct route.
Catalyzing a sense of history, the project is more than just a school, but a social centre of the entire village. Physically lightness and spatial fluidity are key. By a means of sliding and folding doors, the school can be transformed into an impromptu theatre or play structure. The steel frame is wrapped in a veil of slim timber slats, which filter light and temper the interior with cooling breeze – Fujian, on China’s south-east climate. With an assurance that belies its rustic setting, the new building also acts as a foil to the mass and weight of the neighboring historical structures.