Text description provided by the architects. Tsiaogou teaching school locates in Song County of Luoyang City, Henan province and has 49 students and 4 teachers. The school has no reading room so that the 320 books they currently have are scattered in all the classroom. This project will add a new reading room and supply more books. All the current and new books will be put in the reading room for all the students to borrow.
The campus is pretty tight. there’s no empty classroom can be transformed into reading room and the playground cannot be occupied as well to make sure the children have enough space for outdoor activities. So the school planned to use the corner of the fencing wall adjacent to the teaching building as the site for the new reading room.
When we visited the site and saw the beautiful big cedar, we decided that the reading room shouldn’t crouch in the corner. Instead, it should be treated as a cottage underneath the tree umbrella.
The final design uses a fanlike shape to form a space surrounding the cedar. In front of the reading room, we set a exterior wood terrace of 8m in diameter. Together with the big tree umbrella, this terrace become a comfortable semi-exterior space where children could leisurely sit and enjoy their reading, or watch the games on the play ground of their classmates. The shape of the reading room doesn’t occupy the corner of the teaching building ,so that the window of the office is not blocked and the small parterre is reserved. We also put doors on the backside of the reading room from which children can go to the small parterre. This design makes the reading room not just a functional room, but also an interesting connection between indoor and outdoor activities that reconstructs the entire space of the campus.
We make the reading room slightly lower than normal height. The height of the inner side of the slopping roof is only 1.8m and relatively tight for adults. We hope to make the children feel that this is special for them through this detail.
We exposed the structural grid in interior to use as bookshelves.
Because the site locates in mountain area, wood structure is selected to make the transportation and construction easier. To ensure the thermal performance, we didn’t use too much glass openings, but introduce skylight to make the interior brighter, and solar system for lighting. The uses of these facilities is also an introduction of sustainable technologies to the children besides functional consideration.
During the construction process, we already heard from the school that the children were very curious about the new reading room and often came to see the construction site. Now the reading room is open and becomes a beloved place of the children. On the blackboard beside the reading room, we found that the children call it big sailboat that is their imagination of it. We hope that the wood cottage under the huge tree umbrella could become a beautiful memory of their childhood.