Garden School

PrizeBronze in Architectural Design / Educational Buildings
Firm Location, China
CompanyOPEN Architecture
Lead ArchitectLI Hu + HUANG Wenjing
ClientBeijing No.4 High School Fangshan Campus

Situated in the center of a new town in Beijing’s suburb, this new public school on 4.5 hectares of land with an enlightened administration team and advanced educational philosophy is vital to the newly urbanized surrounding area. The intention of creating more open spaces filled with nature, combined with the site limitations, inspired a vertical strategy of separating the programs into above and below, and inserting 6 gardens in-between. The lower part of the building contains large and non-repetitive public functions such as canteen, auditorium and gymnasium, which push the ground up from below into various green mounds that touch the belly of the upper building; the upper building is a super slab that contains those more repetitive programs of classrooms, labs, dormitories and administrations. The roof-top of the upper building is made into an urban farm, with 36 plots for the 36-classes of students. The main spine connecting all the branches of the building is both the circulation and the public space, including specially designed ‘activity islands’. The project is the first high school in the country to achieve Chinese Three-star Green Building Rating (a standard that exceeds LEED Gold). Both passive and active strategies are adopted to reduce the carbon footprint of the building. Simple, natural, and durable materials are used throughout. In the contemporary Chinese context, arguably the most pertinent issue and challenge is that of the relationship among individual, society and nature. Education bears great responsibilities. It is to these issues that the new school aspires to be both a touchstone and a response.