School as a Village
Shanghai Qingpu Pinghe International School is a dynamic campus that redefines the very essence of learning environments. Comprising a 24-class kindergarten, a 30-class primary school, and a 24-class junior high school, it challenges the conventional K-12 educational paradigms in China, where scale and uniformity often overshadow the nuances and sensitivities required for young learners.
School As a Village
Inspired by the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child”, OPEN diverges from the typical monolithic school structure, meticulously reassembling the educational program into a captivating ecosystem. The outcome is an amalgamation of distinct buildings, interlinked by lush gardens and open areas for numerous activities.
At the heart of the campus lie three key buildings: the "Bibliotheater," an interlocking puzzle of library and theater; the "Gym-Canteen," the largest building on campus but appears the lightest; and the enigmatic "Arts Center," a striking black diamond where visual and performing arts converge amidst double-height atriums.
The classroom structures are thoughtfully organized into clusters cube-shaped buildings cladded with bamboo panels. Primary school cubes feature curved corners, while middle school cubes embrace intricate folded geometries.
The Admin-Lab building, with its white prefab-concrete façade and distinctive capsule-shaped openings, stands invitingly next to the school gate.
Flowing seamlessly in between buildings like water is the open spaces that OPEN sees as an integral part of this educational village.
A Living Educational Ecosystem
The design seamlessly incorporates nature into the educational milieu, where gardens, wetlands, forests, running trails, and playgrounds coexist harmoniously with architectural spaces. This holistic approach creates a dynamic setting that nurtures the comprehensive development of young minds.
The campus transcends the traditional concept of a school, evolving into a living ecosystem that adapts and evolves alongside its students. The intimate scale and unique character of the buildings foster a profound connection with students while accommodating rapid construction and future adaptability. The organic distribution of teaching facilities also makes it possible that learning can happen anywhere on the campus.
A Nexus of Community Interaction
On the urban scale, OPEN and the client share the vision that future schools should be dynamic hubs for community interaction. The rich cultural facilities on this campus, such as the library, the theater, the pool and the gym, are designed to be accessible to the public beyond school hours, thus making more efficient use of resources and contributing to the community at large.
In essence, this design redefines the educational landscape, merging practicality with sophistication, and nurturing intellectual and creative pursuits within a vibrant community—a testament to the transformative power of architectural design in education.