An active and activating school
Hexi German School
Location: Nanjing, China
Client: Nanjing Hexi
Programme: 9.000 m²private school with focus on sports
The recent Nanjing Youth Olympics helped establish Nanjing’s reputation, both nationally and internationally, as a city dedicated to supporting the physical and mental fitness of China’s young athletes. Our proposal for the new Nanjing Hexi Primary School takes this as a starting point by integrating education and physical health in a sustainable campus design that combines local building practices with German architectural quality.
The dynamic form of the school is entirely shaped by a rigorously rational approach based on the several stacking site constraints. Accounting for offsets from primary and secondary roads, a future metro line, and adjacent buildings, the footprint leftover for classroom program is only 40% of the total site area. We extruded this remaining area and cut it according to an optimal orientation from a sun study, and densified the program within this region.
This volume is then divided into three building slabs separated by the code specified distance and optimally oriented towards the south to ensure daylight. The normal classrooms are all oriented to the south, and the special classrooms are distributed and clustered according to their required daylight. The running track is located in the north where classrooms cannot be constructed, with seating as a sound buffer from the adjacent major street. The indoor gym is located closest to the track in the north with a radio room that has an overview of the outdoor sports facilities. The entire ground floor is an open public podium, with the entry lobby, library, multifunction hall, and cafeteria easily accessible.
Instead of puncturing a straight hallway to connect the buildings, we propose an active hallway that integrates public building functions with circulation in a loop that unites all of the cores in an efficient routing. This circulation loop becomes a covered hallway track that provides an additional 300 meter, and combines with the outdoor track to create a 650 meter SUPERTRACK! Staircases splashed with the seven bold primary colors further encourage movement within the plan, transforming the entire circulation space from wasted passive space into dedicated to physical fitness. The indoor track roof is covered by a perforated metal mesh that cast ephemeral hopscotch shadows on the floor perfectly timed for lunchtime play.
The masterplan focuses on safety and convenience. The covered track extends to the south to warmly welcome the students. Car entrance and parking are in the southeast, where kids can be dropped off and cars can continue down a ramp to basement parking underneath the classrooms. A separate teacher and staff entrance in the southwest to ensure privacy. An additional entrance is located in the northeast near a bus stop. The basement parking efficiently fits the required car areas, and provided bike parking alongside a bomb shelter with easy access from above
Our sustainable strategy is tailored to Nanjing’s humid subtropical climate, combining a passive geo-exchange conditioning system with on-site energy generation, water retaining and cleaning landscape infrastructure, crop gardens, salvaged construction material, and a façade that retains the character of the previous site. A green strip of track that leads to the entrance uses Powerleap technology to captures the energy from children running on it, used as a demonstration to activate the lobby lights. These strategies combine to meet and exceed the green requirements set out in the brief, for a school that is truly rooted in its surroundings.
The Nanjing Hexi School combines the technological sophistication of German building design with a comprehensive local understanding of code and climate, for a learning environment that inspires fitness of the mind and body.
2015 concept architectural design and design development
2016 – Construction