Located in a remote village, Fujian Province in China, the project does not only provide a physical function – a school and a bridge – but also presents a spiritual centre. The main concept of the design is to enliven an old community (the village) and to sustain a traditional culture (the castles and lifestyle) through a contemporary language that does not compete with tradition, but presents and communicates with it respectfully.
This has been done by combining few different functions into one space – a bridge which connects two old castles across the creek, a school which also symbolically connects past, current with future, a playground (for the kids) and a stage (for the villagers).
A light weight structure traverses a small creek in a single, supple bound: essentially, it is an intelligent contemporary take on the archetype of the inhabited bridge.
Supported by a concrete pier (which also has the function of a small shop), the simple steel structure acts like a giant box girder that’s been slightly dislocated, so the building subtly twists, rises and falls as it spans the creek. Inside the building there are two almost identical, wedge-shaped classrooms, each tapering towards the mid point of the structure (which holds a small public library).
Although it’s possible to use the school building as a bridge, a narrow crossing, suspended underneath the steel structure and anchored by tensile wires, offers an alternative and more direct route.
Catalyzing a sense of history, the project is more than just a school, but a social centre for the entire village. Physical lightness and spatial fluidity are the key.
By means of sliding and folding doors, the school can be transformed into an impromptu theatre or play structure.
The steel frame is wrapped in a veil of slim timber slats, which filter light and temper the interior with the cooling breeze.
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