On the side of Fangshan scenic spot in Nanjing, Fangshan campus of Nanjing Foreign Language School stands quietly, wrapped in red bricks and adjacent to Nanguang College in the south and California city community in the north. This is an international school that includes primary school, middle school, ordinary high school, and international high school. Although it has been put into use for a short period of time, it has aroused unusual attentions.
▼校园主立面，main facade ©姚力
As a key middle school branch school in Nanjing, the school has strict campus management and is not daily open to the public. Parents often crowd the main entrance’s duty room for all kinds of inquiries. They often ask about faculty, tuition, and enrollment plans, but often get nothing. At this point, they usually make one final request: Please let us go inside and see what the school is like, shall we? This unmet demand always keeps people wondering, “What kind of school is built here?”
▼主入口立面，main entrance facade ©姚力
Build a “public school, art garden, square mountain, and wisdom city”
The idea of “extrapolating teaching quality from campus environment” is actually not unreasonable. On the one hand, contemporary campus design is shifting from “tradition” — the shaping of places and spaces — to “guidance” — the exploration and restoration of teaching concepts and educational models. On the other hand, the teaching and management experience of a large number of front-line educators from kindergarten, primary school, middle school, and high school is of great practical guiding significance to our campus planning and design. In the face of the collision between innovative thoughts and actual management, it is the starting point of design to strike a balance between site and function.
▼校园鸟瞰，aerial view of the campus ©姚力
“What kind of school to build? “, to certain extent, not only shows what kind of material and technical conditions we have, but also reflects the concept of education that we believe. While constructing pedagogy suitable for specific schools, the design emphasizes future-oriented learning space. As a brand new continuation of Nanjing Foreign Language School and its campus context in Fangshan, this design extracts the concept of “public school, art garden, square mountain, and wisdom city” in order to deeply explore the profound context of the first-class college, following its development vein and school philosophy.
▼建筑外观，exterior view ©姚力
Sticking to campus cultural deposits and location
Among the four key words “public school”, “art garden”, “square mountain” and “wisdom city”, “public school” refers to the campus context. This international school extracts and restores the humanistic spirit, campus space and site scale of the traditional western public school, and integrates them into the Chinese contemporary multi-culture, thus reproducing a “contemporary public school”. In the design, the red brick throughout the Nanjing Foreign Language School campus is used as the keynote color of the campus, while paying tribute to the history of Nanjing Foreign Language School and also conveying a strong college style.
▼红砖作为校园的基调色，the red brick is used as the keynote color of the campus ©姚力
In terms of location and environmental positioning, the design fully respects the topography of the “square mountain”, creates the integration of two axes, and creates indoor and outdoor unstructured learning spaces with different elevations, making the campus not only a treasure house for knowledge inheritance, but also a gathering place for literature and art.
▼广场和主运动场鸟瞰，plaza and main sports field ©姚力
Seaming an organic whole
▼平面图，plan ©GLA Design
Starting from students’ and teachers’ daily use experience of the campus space, the design creates many friendly and belonging small-scale spaces in the form of constructing courtyards. The large, full-age campus is divided by organic courtyard division into sharing center groups with various features, including all types of functional sharing center group, primary school group, middle school group, high school group, sports group and life group. Each group is perpendicular to the north-south axis of the double axis, which has sufficient daylight. The center water view and node space, enclosed by the groups, is also kind and pleasant.
▼主运动场方向鸟瞰，aerial view from the main sports field ©姚力
▼场地分析，site analysis ©GLA Design
The “art garden” open to the public includes the STEM center, liberal arts center, administrative office, book exchange center and other functions, which are extracted from the design and arranged in the main entrance square of the campus with a “semi-open ring”, forming the campus learning, exchange center and school image display window. The “circular building”, as the vertical point of the other axis, resolves the conflict between the entrance image of the vertical urban main road and the internal teaching group layout.
▼图书馆前的环形中庭，the “semi-open ring” created by the library building ©姚力
▼图书馆及行政楼大厅，lobby – library and administration centre ©姚力
▼小学部入口， primary school entrance ©姚力
Due to its high independence and the characteristics of daily pick-up and drop-off, the semi-day primary school is arranged on the north side of the large plot, close to the dormitory and the secondary entrance on the west side of the campus, and has separate sports fields and facilities. In order to meet the possibility of more communication between students of the same age in science high school and international high school, they are combined into architectural groups so as to share the vitality of the exchange courtyard apart from the independent teaching courtyard. While facing the central waterscape courtyard, the middle school department shares the learning street with the high school department to jointly create diversified learning and exchange opportunities and places. These spatial gestures are the core of the “wisdom city”.
▼沿草坪延伸的长廊，colonnade extending along the lawn ©姚力
Futuristic space proposition
▼标准教学单元，standard teaching unit ©GLA Design
Each department forms the basic courtyard of different ages with the structured learning space, and the unstructured learning space becomes the shared core among the courtyards. The classrooms of different age groups can either be separated or reunited, with strong adaptability. The corridor is moderately widened and integrated into various functions, combining the courtyard and the central water system landscape, forming an interesting place for learning and communication. The applicability of different themes is integrated into the campus.
▼小学部组团，the building group of primary school ©姚力
▼公共空间，public space ©姚力
The campus is divided into north and south functions, with dynamic and static separation and non-interference. In consideration of the noise interference of the playground to the residential area on the north side of the plot, the main sports field and the middle school gymnasium are arranged in the southwest corner of the plot, while the primary and middle school sections are separated by the central waterscape, and the small theater on the west side is connected to the sharing center on the east side.
▼中心水景，central waterscape ©姚力
▼剧场，the theatre ©姚力
▼水景夜间视角，the waterscape by night ©姚力
On the top of the campus building, the modern and concise dark-colored metal box is an iterative innovation of the traditional sloping roof, and the base is supplemented by warm white stone base, which adopts the more classical and eternal architectural form and language that has stood the test of The Times to form an elegant, humanistic and rational campus tone.
▼校园一角，a corner of the campus ©姚力
▼知识穹顶，the dome ©姚力
▼主运动场，main sports field ©姚力
▼校园夜景，night view ©姚力
▼夜间鸟瞰，aerial view by night ©姚力
Design: GLA Design
Contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Design year & Completion Year: 2018
Project location: Nanjing, Jiangsu
Gross Built Area : 164406㎡
Photo credits: Yao Li
Brands / Products used in the project:
1. Terraco STO & Imitation brick coating
2. Maiguan & Artificial grass
3. Houxiao Jinhong & Orifice plate