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Campus-in-weaving: A High School for the 21st Century

By : Ling Xiaohong

The proposed school is integrated into the topography of a natural hillside landscape. Here, three woven space-lanes form a serpentine architectural tapestry. Of these three, the landscape lane dynamically integrates the entire built environment, enhancing student involvement with nature.
The meaning of education is transformation. Here, the future role of the physical school is conceived accordingly. With the development of information technology, remote learning has become popular and easy. Instead of learning mainly in physical schools, students can acquire knowledge at home via the Internet as well as other means and modes. The physical school updates its traditional role into providing more varied and flexible places for interaction and communication between students and teachers and between students themselves. Both program configuration and spatial gesture change as a result. Thus the conception of three universal and flexible spaces:
1. Self-learning spaces, which include information and computer centers, etc.;
2. Instructive / Co-operative spaces, which include lecture rooms for different disciplines for the development of communication and social cooperative skills; and
3. Landscape lane, or a place of self-purification: study, rest, reflection, etc.

These spaces are not separated. Instead, they jump and interweave together, responding in part to complex realities of the future. Through weaving, the school integrates different parts, just like the process of learning: multi-directional, complicated, but distinct in composition. By transforming its traditional function, we use glass to create an organic form and to provide an educational “surface” throughout. Because of its transparency, glass becomes “flexible” both as an integrator and as a separator between spaces.
(Project designed by Ling Xiaohong & Ma Chi Fai)

Tutor’s Comments
The programme of this scheme is more developed than the architecture. Initially a small, twisted wooden strip brought to me by the students, the sinuous form was elegant and visually arresting. It appeared in harmony with the site topography. Formulating a new educational system to follow the pre-designed form took much longer and even proved painful. The three key programs of school: teaching (classrooms), reading (library) and student interaction (larger social spaces) finally did interweave to such an extent that at any time and at any section of the building, the three types of space were contiguous in functionally plausible ways. Relative to its form and contextual constraints, a maximum degree of flexibility of functional arrangement has been provided. Laminated glass, the major building material, allowed maximum interaction within the school and between the school and landscape. The project embodied the faith that the open school idea can be achieved in a woven, open structure. And that is why the project compels.

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