In the domestic education model of pursuing efficiency, control, and security, although we gradually start to pay attention on social, creative, and autonomy aspects of students’ growth, these new educational concepts are often difficult to apply on the space design. For example, functional partitioning and fixed use of the space and circulation are very lack of creation for the users of students and teachers. In the design of Suzhou Science and Technology City of Primary School, because of the special site conditions and mission requirements, the standard space modes of classroom cannot be made. In the case, we have chance to do something special as the architecture design and make space with full of inspiration for children’s learning. we design the school space as the agency and it is the bridge between the city and nature.
Confrontation and adaptation
Suzhou Science and Technology City, just like all modern urban design , divides the land into grids with similar scales in order to meet the requirements of efficient urban operation. The site of Suzhou Science and Technology City of primary school is an extreme case for what was mentioned above. On one side of the site is a river, wetland and mountain with a soothing and natural sight, while on the other side is a high-density apartment planned with mathematical formula. The soft interface of the nature recalls people’s memory of the childhood. The kind of memory of the site is definitely difficult to be recall while in architecture design condition as mathematical calculation of the site and building.
Faced with a series of compact site conditions, complex surroundings, and high-intensity, high-density capacity requirements, what we need to do is to find the balance between the two oppositions. The project is based on the confrontation between the built-up landscape and the natural landscape of the city on the two sides of the site, and the universal resistance of the society to the normalization of the current test-oriented education. In the case, our prime goal is to think about the opposition of the both natural and social context of the site and then find explore the confrontational factors to find a way of adaptability as the architecture design of the school.
Continuation and evolution
Suzhou is a cultural city with thousands of years history, carrying Chinese civilization, from the Hejing Academy of Song Dynasty to Wenzheng Academy of Yuan Dynasty and then to the Bishan Academy of Ming Dynasty, until the modern times. The number of Suzhou academies is quiet huge and enough to be proud of the country. We gradually feel lost in understanding culture and history for both Suzhou city and academy under the rapid development of modernization. Making the history, landscape and humanities of this ancient city of Suzhou to be reflected in the modernization of Suzhou, and make the children with understanding of the aspects of Suzhou that mentioned above is our main goal to pursue.
After the thinking of historical context, urban development, educational thinking, and childhood memories, we put forward the concept of “vertical academy” on such a tightly-grounded site. The “vertical academy” is combined with horizontal and vertical gardens with multiple levels making the natural and communicational space. This concept has retelling the concept of traditional Suzhou garden, meanwhile, it is a way of solving the lankness of communication space of the school. In a word, the “vertical academy” system that we proposed is a way to integration the traditional and modern education system.
We divide the campus into three parts by applying the functions. There are mainly two functions of the school learning space. one is standardized teaching rooms and the other is social inattentive communication space. The third one is the space connected to the two space mentioned above.
Chinese Kongfuzi said “teaching under a huge tree and next to the apricot trees”, the sentence means to provide a variety of activities and spaces when studying. In the case, we put the inner courtyard in a compact standardized teaching unit on the side of the city, and put a three-dimensional garden in the inattentive communication space that is facing to the side of the natural landscape. In this way, we build the relationship between the school functions and the nature.
Making architecture design of “vertical academy” and the retreat of the school are all not our prime purpose. We just want to strive for a unique childhood experience for children who will studying here. The good news is that the multiple open space is used for diverse activities of interesting while in the school events, such as cognitive farm，happy market，food carnival ，etc. The way of space usage has reflected our design meaning.