Beijing Normal University gets streetwise

Wednesday 03 Mar 2010

Recent site development brings together energy, enthusiasm and creative juices of university community

The United International College is located within Beijing Normal University Campus in a suburban area of Zhuhai, which offers associate degree, undergraduate and post-graduate curricula to both Mainland and overseas students. In full capacity, it is expected to accommodate 4,000 full time students. Ronald Lu & Partners was the Design Architect for this project. To infuse the architecture with the site spirit, the design has brought the University campus into the existing topography and lake environment, creating different characters of courtyard spaces for students’ socialisation and gathering. The courtyard spaces also integrate to the classrooms as an extension for studying and discussion, where ‘Student Street’ is formed.

In the student street, students, faculty and staff can socialise, study, collaborate, spend an hour comfortably between classes, and perhaps most importantly let other people in on what they are doing. The area will bring together the energy, enthusiasm and creative juices of the communities. It is flexible, creative and adaptable. Establishing visual links between the various areas of the university was a further aim of the design. Wide external balconies along the internal facade, which affords views to the courtyards, are used as social spaces. Linking bridges and staircases are suspended in the air and laid out in such a way that they are not directly above each other. This enabled a series of visual links to be created between the lively circulation routes. The Resource Centre is the hub and focus of the development. It is strategically located near the entrance for convenient access. When approaching the school from the road, one is confronted initially by this structure floating on the lake. It is also detached from the other part of the campus to the lake to take advantage of the effect of water for serenity for independent studies.

To alleviate the severe sunlight, broad cantilevered roofs and external verandah help to provide sun shading and the skyline formed creates a visual icon from far off. To minimise operational cost, natural resources are best utilised in the development. Narrow building blocks encircled by open spaces and greenery allow maximum daylight and cross ventilation. By following the contour, the disposition of the building creates a corridor for the south-eastern summer breeze through the whole campus.

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