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Futian School, Shenzhen

Classroom courtyard

Site Plan

The 1850 students live at school during the week, so the campus includes dormitories and social spaces. In the Garden Bridge School, living and learning are seamlessly integrated, allowing learning to extend beyond the classroom. The Living and Learning sides of the campus are elevated above the large social spaces such as gymnasium and auditorium. The classroom programs are along Futian Road, as close to the park as possible, with the taller residential dormitories located to the east. In between, the grass sports field, recessed below grade to allow light to enter the gathering spaces, becomes the campus focus.

Above the sports field, the classroom and dormitory buildings are connected by two inhabited bridges containing humanities programming – the Library Bridge and the Arts and Music Bridge. The bridges form continuous loops of circulation within the building and a garden pathway on the roof.

The classroom building is organized around three outdoor courtyards raised on a 7m high plinth overlooking the park. To the north is the Cafeteria Court; at the center is the Entry Court; and at the south is the Administration Court. The courtyards and landscaping connect the school to the scale of the street. The Entry Court provides a single point of entry, allowing access to the school to be controlled. A step garden offers benches integrated into planters growing shade trees. The administration offices, Historic Museum and cafeteria give the school an active presence on the street. The bamboo garden brings light and air into the administration area.

The sports field becomes the campus focus

The campus includes dormitories and social spaces

The design encourages natural ventilation through thin section buildings. The tropical climate of Shenzhen allowed us to make extensive use of outdoor circulation, with generous shaded spaces for gathering and outdoor learning. The classrooms, open to the exterior, have a deep exterior structural system that provides shading from the sun for the generous windows, creates protected outdoor space and keeps the classrooms column free.

Model: massing study

Sections through campus showing the integration of green space

The City of Shenzhen sought a new campus for the Futian High School, to support a creative and progressive educational curriculum. BSC was invited (the only non-Chinese firm) to submit a design that would serve as a model for new secondary education ideas in China. We designed our ‘Garden Bridge School’ to support these new approaches to teaching, which are to be realized in 50 new high schools in Shenzhen’s current building program. BSC’s design will serve the whole student - mind, body, and spirit - in an environment that encourages curiosity and exploration.

Inspired by the zig zag bridges and meandering paths in traditional Chinese Zen gardens, we created multiple paths, levels and spaces for students to reflect and explore new perspectives in their education. The overlapping levels and in-between spaces allow for informal meeting, program overlaps, and exposure to new curricula.

Taking advantage of the school’s location at the edge of a dense urban block overlooking Shenzhen Central Park, we extended the green space of the Park onto the site. Introducing nature into the campus allows for outdoor classrooms and improves students’ sense of well-being. A footbridge connects the school with Central Park, providing the possibility of public access to the school cafeteria and exhibition spaces, integrating the school campus into the neighborhood through public-facing spaces for sports, theater, and educational programming.

SIZE: 100,000 square meters
DATE: 2018
PROJECT TEAM: Timothy Bade, Jane Stageberg, Martin Cox, Karl Landsteiner, Saumon Oboudiyat, Darshin Van Parijs, Hattie Sherman, Ryan Erb, Zhe Huang, Yishuang Guo, Siqi Tang, Bangyuan Mao, Mengying Tang, Yang Lia