Architects: MINAX Architects
- Area: 36848 m²
- Year: 2019
Lead Architect: Zhigang Lu
- Design Team: Ruiyin Li, Li Liu, Congyi huang, Shumin Cai, Dan Wang, Wenqiang Zhou, Zheren Tang, Fei fu, Dai Gao, Lijuan Liu, Xinyue Zhang
- Client: Huzhou Jingkai Investment Development Group Co.LTD
- Construction Documents Design: Huzhou Urban Planning and Design Institute
- City: Huzhou
- Country: China
Text description provided by the architects. When the Tianmu Mountains rush from south to north to Taihu Lake, the steep ridges and ravines of that time have slowly submerged into the vast lakeside plain at this moment. People built cities between the lake and the mountains and created the wealthiest and most romantic area in China, Jiangnan. The Southwest Elementary School is located between the mountain and the city. Taking advantage of the beauty of the landscape, it begins a construction journey of “patrolling the eaves of the wind and the moon, reclusion in landscape”.
The site is located in a newly developed urban area in Huzhou, surrounded by planned residential areas, with a community park on the north side and a continuous mountain view across the river on the south side. In China’s customary construction concept, residential areas and public buildings are distinct systems. The residential area is closed and introverted. As one of the few gathering places for public activities in the urban area, the school is isolated in terms of architectural form and management mechanism due to function and safety factors. When the barriers between building and block become more and more serious, we hope to use a building that can truly respond to the environment and the city to bring an open and positive attitude to the community.
The long axis of the site forms an angle of 45 degrees with the north-south direction. In order to ensure the southern lighting of the classrooms, the main teaching units building is arranged in the north-south direction. On the north-south axis, the dining hall, classrooms, and cultural and sports center are arranged successively. Due to the twisting of the axis, interesting changes have taken place in the building with the bisected main teaching unit naturally turning along the site boundary, forming a relatively enclosed courtyard. The courtyard entrance enclosed by the short wings happens to face the city and the mountain view, respectively. We magnified the short wing incidentally and cut obliquely on the shape. Due to the intervention of external force, the entrance of the courtyard contracts in the plane and expands in the vertical, presenting a dynamic symmetrical balance. With the change of the viewers' footsteps, the courtyard shows a movement in different dimensions, and the building is reshaped following this movement. At one end facing the city and mountain views, the roof of the building is cut into an enlarged slope, which is arranged by a series of staggered steps and naturally becomes a stand facing the outside. Plants also spread from the ground to the roof, becoming two streams of green light across the site. The daylighting glass windows scattered in the meantime are like gems in the green field, shining brightly during the day and night. At this time, architecture no longer follows the introverted self-order, but abandons its barriers, merges into the city, and becomes the founder of the unique regional context.
The three-dimensional twist and change of the building body produce the radian of the corner. This formal language is extracted as the unified morpheme of the entire campus. Under this unified approach, each monomer presents an overall appearance. The simple composition method is extracted into a powerful formal language, and what we have to do next is to use it as a basis for multiple deduction and reinforcement. The building is divided according to the size of the functional blocks, forming a combination according to the relationship of distance, abandoning the rigid right angles, and shaping itself with soft arcs while being gentle with the city.
The shape of the building secretly echoes the shape of the surrounding mountains. The courtyard between the two teaching buildings also looks like a mountain valley. The terrace, with a natural retreat from low to high, like a mountain that stretches upwards, becomes the prominent place for students’ activities between classes, and at the same time, outlines the broader shape of the sky. The magnificent sky and rosy clouds can be seen between the mountains and rivers, and this scene also performs over the courtyard from time to time, against the gray buildings, becoming a natural miracle in every ordinary day. The horizontally stretched long lines are cut powerfully in the smooth movement process, forming a firm turn on the gallery's outer wall. It comes from the brush and ink descriptions of mountains and rocks in traditional Chinese painting and reflects the power of mountains and cities in every passing light and cloud.
There are still bridges across the courtyard, which not only solves the problem of traffic connection but also enables the walking in the “canyon” to have suspended crossing and a central stay so that you can experience the dimensional change of space between seeing and being seen. There are an “island” and trees in the middle of the bridge. On a sunny day, sit and watch the clouds rise, and the light moves at any time. In the city, the mountain scenery appears.
School design, if only following the provisions of the norms, is primarily similar, seemingly efficient, and economical but loses the most valuable abstraction and taste. And we believe an interesting house can certainly edify an interesting soul. In the concrete context, the experience of abstract concepts not only exists in the process of architectural creation but also should be filled in the ordinary architectural walking and staying. This is not only the architect’s vision but also should become the experience of every user. Coming from an abstract symbolic system, it can not only accumulate self-experience but also superimpose the experience of others to become a common memory of society. This is what we call “culture”, and it is also the meaning of “learning” as we understand it. It is also the theme we want to convey in the mountains and rivers of Southwest Primary School.