Story of a Small Town Traditional primary and secondary school planning in modern Chinese cities usually provides students and children with an adult-scale campus environment at an excessively early stage. Such environment gives no help to them in coping with high educational and social pressure. Facing these phenomenon, it is the architects’ responsibility to subversively break these conventions in school planning and offer children with space of their own scale and age in which they will enjoy living and studying.
The project of Yuhang NO.2 School consists of a kindergarten, a primary school and a secondary school. The design is inspired by a random impromptu child drawing that depicts his ideal school which is like a small town full of small scale spaces and “happy” streets.Based on this inspiration, the design divided the 8000-sqm campus into 15 much smaller scale gabled volume. The scale of each volume gradually increases according to the growth of children’s age and the variation in their behaviors. A comfortable campus environment is formed by small inner courtyards within and among these volumes. Exposed stairs and corridors shaped dynamically are not only designed for circulation, but also for plenty of activity spaces. Under the gabled roofs are various common areas particularly designed for different types of gatherings, communications and social activities. As a mini society, the school enables students to build their own social consciousness with daily experience.
This project consists of 12 classrooms for kindergarten program and 27 classrooms for primary and secondary school program,which forms three U-shaped blocks and are distributed from south to north accordingly. The heights of these blocks increase incrementally to adapt different demand of scale of different departments, as well as to create a dynamic skyline. The space in-between buildings offers inner courtyards with variation of paving and landscape. A main street that satisfies youngster’s curiosity and desire of exploration is also created in between the blocks.
The kindergarten building stands as an independent U-shaped unit with open arms embracing the children. The primary school consists of four 4-floor units which form a half yard towards the Central open space. Located near main road in the city, the secondary school provides an unified facade that coordinates with the overall urban interface.
To make more intriguing activity space for students, the design offers massive rooftop activity space according to characteristics of different student groups and specialty of each roof form, such as plantation, theatre, runway, reading room and relaxation area. In addition, the corridors and public spaces are enlarged purposely to connect the second floor of all building, so as to create an extra elevated public activity area. In this campus colored with white and grey, each of the gabled facade is designed differently in color,material and window forms, as to signify the different usage of each building. These facade painted with bright colors of yellow, green and light blue not only renders a warm and lively atmosphere, but more importantly underlines the sense of belonging and identification of different area.Additionally, five buildings within the compound are covered with bronze metal panel in order to create a different rhythm within a unified materiality.Students,especially kindergarten children can easily describe their location in the campus according to the different facades,which helps to form their own cognitive map of the campus.
Adhering to a special variation in scale, the design of this entire campus closely follows the growth and emotion of its users.The design notion of “the story of a small town” will allow students and children to enjoy their own fairy tale like campus.