Situated in the center of a new town just outside Beijing’s southwest fifth ring road, this new public school on 4.5 hectares of land is designed as the branch campus for the renowned Beijing No.4 High School. As an important piece in a grand scheme to build a healthier and self-sustainable new town, avoiding problems of the earlier mono-functional suburban developments, the school is vital to the development of the vast newly urbanized surrounding area. The intention of creating more open spaces filled with nature, something that urban Chinese students today desperately need, combined with the space limitations of the site, inspired a strategy on the vertical dimension to create multiple grounds, by separating the programs into above and below, and inserting gardens in-between. The juxtaposition of the resultant upper and lower building, connected at the ‘middle-ground’ in various ways, is as much an interesting spatial strategy as a signifier of the relationship between formal and informal educational spaces in the new school.
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