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Gehua Youth and Cultural Center

Surrounded by woods, and away from the urban chaos nearby, the building was designed to fully immerse in the nature. A rich mix of program is accommodated in this small building of less than 3,000 m².

The design is a thoughtful response to the clients needs of spaces that can accommodate the ever changing programs of the camp with an open and free spirit that is rare in conventional teaching facilities. The roof is flat to be used for landscaping and outdoor activities; the indoor ground follows the rise of topography and is set at several different heights which subtly divide the free flowing spaces into different zones, all facing the sloped central courtyard with floor to ceiling glass wall. A brick-paved path zigzags its way through the grassy courtyard connecting all different heights, providing both an accessible route and an interesting landscape element.

At the lower end of the courtyard, the building façade is composed of a giant pair of bamboo-plywood-faced folding doors with scattered slot openings that become denser as they get closer to the ground. The openings were inspired by the eyes on the trunks of the local poplar trees. Behind it across a corridor, is another pair of folding doors of the same size but faced with off-white fabric that can serve as projection screens. When both sets of folding doors are open, the small theater behind is entirely revealed to the central courtyard. All of sudden the courtyard becomes part of the theater, and the theatrical event enters into the courtyard. Totally different kind of theatrical experience can be created here, novel and unexpected. In the summer nights, the courtyard is often used as an outdoor cinema with movies projecting onto the surface of the inner folding doors.

The center provides a place in sunshine and nature for children to explore and discover. It is like a micro-society. It also acts as a cultural hub open year-round to the local residents, hosting various performances and cultural activities.

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