Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects has been awarded first prize in an international competition to design the 25,000 sq m Student Centre & Library for the Wenzhou-Kean University in Wenzhou, China. Set in 500 acres in a rural mountainous region, the university will provide learning and living space for 8,500 students. The new building is located at the heart of the university and designed to embrace interaction and diversity, creating opportunities for new ways of learning in an informal environment and will become the central hub for student activities within the campus.
Established in 2006, the Wenzhou-Kean University is cooperatively run by Wenzhou University and Kean University, New Jersey, USA. The university aims to merge Chinese and American teaching methodologies in practice from a global context.
The winning proposal of the new Student Centre & Library is designed to embrace diversity, interaction and knowledge sharing. The new building connects the educational faculties in the south and student residence in the north. Set against a beautiful backdrop of mountains, the exterior of the Student Centre & Library appears as four rectangular shapes placed on top of one another. The building is wrapped in semi-transparent glass covered in an abstract fritted pattern. The facade is inspired by Wenzhou's mountainous terrain, and vernacular bamboo construction common in the city's historical architecture.
Located at the ground and first level, the student activity centre is designed as a central marketplace. Accessible from all sides, the activity centre will provide spaces for a cafe, theatre, dance and music studios, exhibition space, sports and games, and spaces for informal meeting and gathering. Stairs and bridges in the atrium connects the upper levels, where a grand "book stack" in the light-filled atrium leads up to the library and study spaces on the third to ninth floor.
The library will house 30,000 books, a 300 seat lecture hall, and various space for study and research. Reading spaces are organised around the central book stack, leading to a grand reading room on the top level.
Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects is one of Scandinavia's foremost architectural practices known for their award winning design in educational and public projects and have been active in Asia for almost a decade. Recently, the practice won the competition to design a new educational facility for the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht in the Netherlands. The practice's previous educational building designs include the Thor Heyerdahl College in Larvik, Norway, the award winning City of Westminster College in London, UK, and the new Island School in Hong Kong. Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects has built a reputation for bringing a strong Scandinavian design approach to large complex public projects in China.
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