Yiwu Foreign Languages School by LYCS Architecture

Yiwu Foreign Languages School is located in the main urban area of Yiwu, Zhejiang Province,with 48 classes of elementary schools and 24 classes of junior high schools. The design is aimed to create a joyful campus to bring back a sense of intimacy and inspire children’s curiosity, rather than a uniform and solemn general school. Starting with a child’s perspective, the design introduces the “moving”, “communal” and “social” teaching environment to stimulate children’s desire for study and creativity.

Compared with other normal school of similar scale, the site space is very limited. The design addresses this issue with a series of design process. Each teaching units and spatial module are derived from analyzing about function and volume. Then, the teaching units are organized in a rational and efficient layout, each specially adapted to meet the requirement of the sunlight and ventilation. Ultimately, the program is generated into two parts. Public space is stretched over the ground floor to stimulate more campus activities.

While classrooms, dormitories, playground and other volumes are built on the second floor and above to ensure sufficient sunlight and ventilation. Therefore, the planning strategy not only compact numerous homogeneous space to save more for public, but also fits in the diplomatic concept of educational system. Yiwu is praised as the largest market by the United Nations and the World Bank. In such a city with both local and international perspectives, how architectural space meet the need for new teaching space type combined the international education system and traditional culture.

On the ground floor, there are laboratories and public classrooms, including other functional spaces including reading rooms, the concert hall, art lounge, dance rooms, art rooms, calligraphy rooms, the experts communication center, the school history room and gallery. These diverse spaces are bonded organically, and centered with courtyards to form thematic courtyards themed with “ knowledge”, “science”, “culture” and “art”. The international academic exchange center includes offices, training space and a small amount of dining room. The playground can serve as two standard basketball courts to enrich the sport activities.

The design combines the teaching space required for internationalization and localization. The building blocks of the school and the dormitory are hollowed out to form a semi-open activity space, which adds one dimension to the two-dimensional architectural element. On the surface, the original physical space is reduced by a part. In fact, the hollowed out part becomes a space for students to have extracurricular activities and contact with nature, which increases the richness of the overall space. Instead, it achieved the effect of 100-1=101.

Moreover, all event spaces are designed to be bright yellow, enhancing campus recognition and belonging while promoting student communication. Teachers recognize and advocate that education is not limited to classroom space. They think that walkways, playgrounds, etc. can be used as learning spaces, and can even be extended to streets, lanes, yards, squares, parks, etc. in cities. Let the children learn and grow by integrating into the community. The architectural form of the ground floor draws references from Jiangnan watertown buildings with the pitched roof.

The spatial units are organized to create a comfortable-scale campus, among which are inserted with “streets”, “lanes”, “courtyards” and “pocket parks” to intensify the sense of community. Such interesting and friendly spaces, small but elegant and cosy, are interconnected to give the children an open, quiet and comfortable ambience, seeking to trigger their interaction and communication. Once looking out from the upper buildings, it could be obviously seen that the tiles not only function as heat preservation and water resistance for the roof, but also bring about a trace of elegance and tranquility to the entire campus.

The height difference between northeastern end and southwestern end of the campus is about three-four meters. The folding roof descends to the ground to subtly combine with the topography, in the place with the most apparent height difference. People could directly wander on the roof of the podiums and perceive the trace and appeal of time passing, which is brought about by layering tiles. A subtle visual relationship is generated between the upper buildings and podiums. Upper buildings are seemed as the “lighthouses” floating on the “sea of tiles”, forming clear spatial orientation for the campus.

The courtyards are echoing the form of upper buildings, which are correlated closely with each other. Therefore, in the journal of walking in the courtyards, people could feel strongly the existence of the upper buildings. Moreover, geometric and visual tension penetrate through the upper and lower space, despite their different levels of scale. A lively new experiential education scenario is sketched out by the design concept, the form and spatial definition. As the medium of realization, the design enriches educational experience and bring more possibilities for the teachers and students.

It’s a project with huge challenges. How to define the architectural form of educational building in the high-density urban environment. How architectural space meet the need for new teaching space type combined the international education system and traditional culture. How to create a traditional space experience for the future. All of these issues are common questions in the process of rapid urbanization in China, and what LYCS have been focusing in the field of high-density city and education. Source by LYCS Architecture.

  • Location: Yiwu, China
  • Architect: LYCS Architecture
  • Project Team: RUAN Hao, CHEN Wenbin, NIE Yueliang, CHEN Qi
  • Collaborators: WU Shiyang, JIANG Leilei, WU Tao, CHEN Zhilin, CAI Zeyu, XU Jun, YANG Ge, XI Shuying, ZHOU Jin
  • Size: 85,481 sqm
  • Year: 2018
  • Photographs: WU Qingshan, Courtesy of LYCS Architecture

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