gooood would dig into projects which are appropriate for deeper report, in order to present the project in a more comprehensive way.
出品人：向玲。编辑：陈诺嘉，刘丹阳，武晨曦，历剑，徐馨羽 / Producer: Xiang Ling. Editors: Chen Nuojia, Liu Danyang, Wu Chenxi, Li Jian, Xu Xinyu
▼视频 ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
gooood x Hua Li
TAO has now completed 3 educational projects in Deyang, Sichuan, including elementary school projects and one kindergarten project. Considering that the main user would be junior high school students who are from another age group, what kind of changes has happened to the starting point of the proposal? Did you conduct any specific investigation and examination for the proposal? How did you decide the site? How about the process and what is the reason of choosing this space? How does it prevent from the flooding?
▼项目外观，external view of the project ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
Junior high students are in the age of adolescence, becoming rebellious, restless, sociable and starting to have a crush on someone due to hormonal changes. We conducted a pre-design survey with 100 students and teachers in Beijing No. 4 Middle School. There were many interesting responses which provide inspiration for the design.
Here are some excerpts of the teachers’ responses: “Junior high students are strange animals. They yell and run up and down (being rebellious). But it also depends on the sample”; “They (junior high students) need something that attracts their attention”; “Will they chat in the corridor? Maybe yes, but usually they are running and chasing each other, both boys and girls. The corridor is a mess! They shout loudly and there ought to be some spaces specially designed for chatting.”
One of the students said: “I like the corridor the most. We used to have single-loaded classrooms and we rushed to the corridors after class. A gang of boys would lean against the railing and look at the girls who were going to the restroom at the end of the corridor. We were too thin-skinned to go alone, that’s why we had to move in groups…After exams, we hung the chairs on railings and sat on them, having a sense of excitement of floating on the third floor. The teacher peeped through the backdoor window along the corridor to check the class in real time, girls hid behind the window to see her secret crush in another class. It’s all about such things…”; “I hope there are many gathering spaces in various scales. It’s better to have a place that the teachers can’t see.”
These detailed and vivid responses suggest characteristics of the group and purposes that the spaces need to achieve. From these responses, it can be clearly felt that public spaces like the corridors are a place for communication and extracurricular activities should be valued, and that we should pay attention and take care of the active nature of junior high students.
▼中心庭院，central courtyard ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
What do you think was the most touching thing about the site of this project? How did your initiate the design?
There is nothing particularly impressive about the site. If there must be one, it may be its difficulty. On the one hand, the size of the site is constrained and the Floor Area Ratio is relatively high. On the other hand, the shape of the site is irregular and next to an oblique angled road. Of course, site constraint is a common issue in designing school buildings in downtown area. Therefore, how to solve the density problem and free up more ground floor spaces for outdoor activities has become the key factors of the design. As a result, the ideas of elevated building, grand staircase, continuous ground spaces, etc. have come up.
▼鸟瞰图，场地容积率高，道路不规则，aerial view of the project in a high density site ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
Why did you choose to give the building an all-white appearance? What do you expect the building to be like after years of use?
I chose white because there were no convincing reasons to use other colors or materials. As a result, white becomes a natural choice to purely express abstract forms and spaces. In Hainan, where there is heavy annual rainfall, white material will grow patina over time, and thus, having traces of time. The occurrence of such condition is favored in the design.
▼全白色建筑外观，white appearance of the building ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
What are the considerations for the arrangement of the large amount of elevated spaces?
The buildings are elevated on pilotis to open up the ground floor space as the site is too small. Moreover, it provides shading and facilitates natural ventilation, which actively responses to the tropical climate of Hainan. The seismic base isolation system is adopted due to safety requirement.
▼架空空间，elevated space ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
The colonnade surrounding the central courtyard is finished in white, which looks pure and even sacred from some perspectives. What was the reason to create such a place for a senior high school?
Schools should have a spiritual space that inspires awe. Junior high schools are no excpetion. Play hard when it’s time to play, and be quiet when it’s time to calm down. The central courtyard in the teaching block acts like this type of space to allow people to calm down. It’s a palace, or a temple, with the sky as its ceiling. The fourteen-meter high colonnade endows the space with commemorative and monumental characteristics. Along the longitudinal direction, the white façade of a tower at the end becomes the focal point of sight. I envision that this space can hold some ceremonial events such as ceremonies, outdoor performances, movies, etc. A retractable shading membrane was designed above at the beginning, making the central courtyard a shaded semi-indoor space. However, it was not realized because of the budget.
▼白色柱廊围绕的中庭空间，courtyard enclosed by white colonnade ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
▼从走廊上可以看到中庭空间，the courtyard could be seen from the corridors ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
What is the role of “light” in this project?
Light sculpts the form and expresses the emotions of a building. Because of the spatial hierarchy, which is created by the colonnade and the spaces behind, light performs in different ways. It diffuses on cloudy days, while its color alternates under the sun, enriching the spatial expression.
▼光帮助塑造建筑形体，light sculpts the form of the building ©华黎
For the spaces of which the functions are not clearly defined, what was the initial idea to create them and connected them to the other parts of the project? What were the method and criteria for defining the layout and hierarchical division in both horizontal and vertical level?
▼学生一天的作息，activity patterns of the students
School design is closely related to the school’s teaching methodology and students’ activity patterns. Students have two main activities: having classes and extracurricular activities. We have studied the students’ daily schedule, which is almost militarized with little extracurricular time (Figure 1). Students take classes mainly in academic classrooms, and participate in extracurricular activities outside classrooms in circulation and public spaces. Under such an examination-oriented education system, classrooms are usually designed in the conventional ways. As a result, those spaces outside classrooms become the focus of design. The core of these non-academic spaces is to embrace students’ nature, as they love pondering, socializing, observing, playing, wandering, running, and so on. Therefore, the corridors are not only linear spaces for people to pass through, but also with nodes attached to them. For example, the interlaced cantilevered balconies, which we called as “gathering dens”, can accommodate social activities of small groups and allow visual connections in different floors, offering opportunities for social interaction between students of different grades. Furthermore, the balconies also serve as a place to spectate activities in the central courtyard.
From outside to inside of the plan layout, there are classrooms, corridors and leisure spaces, and courtyard respectively, transiting from “rules” to “freedom” and forming a mutual observation relationship around the central courtyard. In the section, from the fourteen-meter high colonnade to a double height connective space and single-floor private space, it corresponds to different scales of group and individual activities. I hope the multi-scaled spaces can help balance the relationship between the collective and individuals.
▼走廊旁的“帮派空间”，“gathering dens” along the corridors ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
▼开放自由的公共空间，open public space with freedom ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
The“tower space” on the east side seems to be the only space in the campus with rich colors. What kind of place do you expect to provide for the students here?
We call it “Secret Tower”. Adolescents have secrets, and schools also need to contain a place for secrets. The colors of the tower are only inside and can’t be seen from outside. One will be surprised upon entering. The interior of the tower is dark, and light enters from the top in a special way, creating a mysterious, dramatic or even religious atmosphere through the colorful interior walls. In my opinion, there should be a striking and memorable place as the students’ unique memory of the school.
▼彩色塔形空间与其他白色空间形成对比，the colorful tower contrast with the white spaces ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
▼色彩丰富的“秘密之塔”，”Secret Tower” with rich colors ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
Schools are a micro-city that belongs to young persons. In which way do you think Architecture can influence the students? What are the primary requirements to build an ideal school campus that contributes to the growth and self-construction of students? Do you want to share some other experiences about educational project design?
▼连续的交通空间创造更多视线交流，continuous circulation space provides more visual connections ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
▼教室设计草图，空间与教学方式结合，sketches of classrooms, corresponding with teaching methodology
As students spend years at school, including the period of adolescence, the architecture of the school has a long-term influence on them. An ideal school building should have the following characteristics: First, it should be large enough. It doesn’t mean the scale, but the content and variety to meet the users’ needs. It may have spaces in different scales and atmospheres, such as gathering squares or private corners, serious places or room for fun and relaxation. Just like a city, it should be all-inclusive. School is a place that helps you know the world and yourself better. Books contain a virtual and imaginary world, while the school is the real world that relates to students’ mental growth. Second, it should be free enough. Communal spaces in the school should be open and continuous, rather than being divided by walls and floor slabs. What I mean by free is that students can consider the school as their own territories where they are not controlled or monitored, they can release the real nature and be self- disciplined. For example, the plum blossom-shaped balconies along corridors allow social interaction between different floors (or different grades); the zigzag ramps serve as vertical circulation to ensure visual and physical continuity, making it possible for running and having more eye contacts. Third, it should be interesting enough. The spaces should stimulate imagination and surprise, instead of simply following the rules and regulations.
What is more important in designing educational buildings is to investigate the relationship between teaching methodology and architecture in collaboration with the school, or even to develop teaching methodology in combination with architectural design. For example, sizes of the classrooms, flexibility, layout, etc. are all related to teaching methodology. However, it is still hard to achieve nowadays. Therefore, to design a good school, I think it’s not only about architectural design, but also a collaborative work with the principal and teachers who are dedicated to education.
▼舞蹈教室，dance classroom ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
▼音乐教室，music classroom ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
▼美术教室，art classroom ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
What is the current state of the school since it came into use? How did the students like their new school?Have you received any unexpected or surprising feedback?
The school has now been in use for more than one year since last September. Recently, we conducted a survey with the students and teachers of Haikou Huandao Middle school to find out how they feel about the school buildings. The students gave us the following descriptions: “Magical…like a maze, there are lots of unexpected spaces”; “It’s a place full of imaginations and also has a strong sense of space”; “The colonnade and staircases are staggered. I even got lost when I was a fresher”; “Novel, because you can find some side pathways and hidden buildings everyday”; “The zigzag ramps allow me to climb up to the third or fourth floor easily without effort. Unlike my previous school, which always made me feel exhausted to get to the upper floors”; “We are not getting stared by the teachers any more”, and so on. For the secret tower——“I prefer to stand inside the tower for a while when I’m in a bad mood”; “You can think about life here”. One of the most interesting answers is that one student said: “The building is as pure as people’s heart, and the colorful tower spaces represent the ‘tricks’ in the heart, which full of fun.” From these vivid descriptions, we can feel the dialogue between the spaces and the students’ mind. Programs that are not specified in design brief have become the most popular spaces for students, such as the grand staircase, balconies, ramps, verandah, tower, etc. It will be more meaningful if the school can cultivate more “tricks” in the heart in the future.
▼宿舍楼，dormitory building ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
▼食堂下沉广场，sunken square in front of the canteen ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
More about Haikou Huandao Middle School
▼顶视图，top view of the project ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
Located in Haikou, Hainan, China, Haikou Huandao Middle school is designed to accommodate teaching classrooms, function classrooms, students’ dormitory and dining hall for more than 1200 students, 24 classes. The design initiated from thinking about how to create a nurturing environment that celebrates creativity and interaction rather than examination-oriented learning cultures.
As the site is situated in the city center, where surrounding high-rise residential buildings heighten a sense of encirclement and compression, the overall layout of the school emphasizes on an introverted nature of architecture. Playground is placed centrally, while the teaching block and dormitory building are located at South and North sides of the site respectively. Two courtyards within the teaching block, one big and one small, are formed through a complex interplay of different volumes, enriching spatial hierarchy and visual connections.
▼设计草图，底层架空并使地面空间连续，design sketches, elevated buildings create open up ground floor space
▼1比100教学楼剖面模型，1 to 100 teaching block section model
Due to site constraints, the teaching block and the dormitory building are elevated on pilotis to open up the ground floor spaces, which allows visual and physical continuity. The central courtyard of the teaching block is raised up to the second floor and is connected with the playground through a grand staircase. The grand staircase serves not only as a place for relaxation and communication, but also a grandstand for spectators. Classrooms face outward and are distributed orderly in the east and south part of the teaching block, whereas function classrooms are more inward-facing and act as independent volumes. Among the function classrooms, art classroom adopts a curved roof to ensure even and stable ambient lighting, while music and dance classrooms are under arched roofs that help to enhance acoustics. The architecture also actively responses to the local tropical climate: stilt floor provides shading and protection against wind and rain; colonnade facilitates natural ventilation; rooftop platform offers additional activity spaces for students, and at the same time, reduces heat absorption and lowers indoor temperature.
▼连续的架空空间，continuous ground floor space ©上：是然建筑摄影，Schran Images，下：华黎，HUA Li
▼半地下展示与交流活动空间，half-underground exhibition and communication space ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
▼中庭提供聚会场地，courtyard provides gathering space ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
The ways students utilize campus are not only confined to the use of traditional classrooms, but also the inhabitation of undefined public spaces, which contributes to a huge part of education. In this sense, school is a miniature city, bringing various everyday experience to the students apart from attending classes. The design therefore seeks to create diversified and integrated spaces that promote active and spontaneous learning: the central courtyard acts as a cohesive area for outdoor group activities; widened corridor forms a series of interlaced semi-open balconies that allow small groups of friends to observe and contemplate; the zigzag ramps and stairs create more spaces for social interaction and also serve as vertical circulation.
▼错动的半室外空间草图，sketches of the interlaced semi-open balconies
▼突出、错动的半室外阳台，interlaced semi-open balconies ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
▼坡道，ramp ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
▼走廊漫游空间，corridors for wandering ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
Furthermore, a colorful tower-shaped space is placed at the eastern end of the central courtyard. The tower’s white and abstract façade is dramatically contrasted with the multiple scales of vertical geometry, colorful interiors and fascinating lighting variations, all of which create experience that embraces imagination and art.
▼1比100教学楼剖面模型，1 to 100 teaching block section model
▼塔形空间内部，创造神秘的体验，interior of the tower space, creating a mysterious experience ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
Structurally, seismic base isolation system is adopted for earthquake resistance due to the special seismic geological conditions in Huandao. The teaching block is supported by a series of seismic isolators which are placed between the building and foundation. During earthquake, the damper underneath absorbs the vibration through elastic deformation, improving the seismic performance of structures and thus providing the building with strength and stiffness.
▼夜景，night view ©是然建筑摄影，Schran Images
▼剖透视图，采用隔震结构，perspective section, the building was built with earthquake resistance structure
▼一层平面图，first floor plan
▼二层平面图，second floor plan
Project title: Huandao Middle School, Haikou
Client: Hainan Huandao Industrial Development CO. Ltd.
Location: Haikou, Hainan, China
Program: classroom, multi-purpose rooms, office, student dormitory, dining hall, etc.
Architect: HUA Li / TAO (Trace Architecture Office)
Design team: SHEN Lijun, LI Ruoxing, YAN Yadong, ZHANG Xiaoxiao, ZHANG Feng, Luca Ronchi, GUO Cong, JIN Longqiang, TIAN Tao, LIANG Zhuojia, TAN Xiao, LIU Zhouxing, CAO Pengfei, QIN Mingxuan, SHENG Zhiqi, WEI Mingyu, LIANG Guopei, YIN Qianqian, QU Yue, XU Yu, GAO Zhaojia, CHEN Yuan
Structural engineer: MA Zhigang, SUN Kai, ZHAO Xiaolei
MEP engineer: LV Jianjun and Kcalin design group MEP engineer: LI Wei, ZHOU Yong, LI Xin, ZHANG Anfeng
General contractor: Gansu Eighth Construction Group Co., Ltd.
Site area: 14108 sq. m.
Floor area: 19020 sq. m.
Structural system: Reinforced concrete frame structure
Photographer: Schran Images (except as otherwise noted)