Xiao Jing Wan is a coastal urban development located to the east of Shenzhen. Foster + Partners has designed a mixed-use development consisting of a hotel, clubhouse, retail and residential components in the region, also including a 55,000 square-metre university campus for China Resources Group. Situated astride a hill, with exceptional views towards the South China Sea, the management training institute accommodates 500 students, with residential facilities for up to 300 students and 35 staff.
Five teaching buildings and the innovation centre flank the central boulevard at the crest of the hill, which terminates with the main auditorium building, containing the main lecture theatre for 580 people and other meeting rooms. The library, additional auditoria, students’ bar, gym and residences step down the side, maintaining sea views, and are linked by lush landscaping. The buildings are arranged with a strong horizontal emphasis, and use the same restrained palette of materials in their construction, consisting of fair-faced concrete exposed internally and externally, bronze coloured cladding and a specially developed clay brick.
This area of Shenzhen has a history of brick masonry buildings, and the design of the university buildings follow in this tradition with a contemporary interpretation of the conventional building block. More than half a metre long, the specially designed brick is made from locally available earth which has a high clay content. The entire manufacturing process was carried out at a neighbouring factory, where the machine-made bricks were given a rough texture by hand-pressing coarse stones against them before firing. The bricks were baked at varying temperatures between 1250 and 1290 degrees Celsius to obtain slight variations in colour shades, matching the different tones of earth found in the surrounding area.
Each brick – 60 millimetres deep and 42 millimetre high – was overlaid with an 8 millimetre layer of coloured mortar – the shade of which was carefully selected to exude warmth and complement the colour of the fair-faced concrete structure. The result is a precise, well-engineered complex of buildings that derive their character from the basic building block – the brick, simultaneously reflecting the area’s vernacular heritage and the contemporary nature of the university buildings.
1. Fair faced concrete
3. Bronze aluminium