A Unique Use Of Space Encourages Creativity In This School In China

Huandao Middle School
Schran Images

In the residential area of Haikou, China, Trace Architecture Office has designed ‘Huandao Middle School’—an educational environment celebrating creativity and interaction.

When beginning to design the structure, the Beijing-based architecture firm looked to the functionality of the school and thought of it as a city—a changeable space that gives way to multiple daily experiences. The resulting building is vast in scale and diverse in shape, with strong geometric features. Due to the restrictions of the site area, the architects have resourcefully raised the structure of the building on pilotis to maximize available space. The main elements of the building face onto the central courtyard, around which ramps and stairs zigzag throughout the building, creating a unique collection of spaces for social interaction. This feature is also directional, encouraging the natural movement from one space to another.

The architecture of the school frequently provides multiple functions; to protect from the changeable tropical climate, overhead shades work as shelters during torrential outbursts of rain. Purposefully large, open spaces and balconies encourage the natural flow of ventilation in warmer temperatures. Inside, classrooms feature high, curved ceilings which maximize natural light in the art studios and amplify acoustics in the music rooms. In contrast to the white, minimalist facade, the school also features a unique tower-like space found within the central courtyard; the interior of which is brightly colored with blue, red, and yellow walls. Within this clever use of space, creativity and imagination are thoughtfully brought together to demonstrate the architect’s initial inspiration for this project: that a school can be a nurturing environment which encourages social interaction.