Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
XiaoQuan Ethnic Elementary School in Sichuan Province, China by TAO
March 7th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: TAO
The old XiaoQuan Elementary School was severely damaged during the catastrophic 5.12 Sichuan earthquake in 2008 and was demolished afterwards. Supported by donations from several sponsors, the project is to build new school in the center of Xiaoquan old town. The program consists of main classroom buildings, classrooms for various activities, teacher’s office, student dormitory buildings, and dining hall. The new school will host more than 900 students.
The design is conceived as a cluster of small buildings to create a micro-city like campus. The fragmentary instead of unified building composition defines many typological places such us streets, plazas, courtyards, and steps, analogous to original Xiaoquan’s urban space in scale and pattern, so as to provoke a familiar feeling from daily life. These places are intended to encourage diversified and spontaneous activities of children. Various-scale playful corners and labyrinth spaces as passages and playgrounds are created to provoke children’s curiosity and imagination. Through this, we also intend to continue the urban space memory of Xiaoquan town, so as to avoid a rebuilding in brutal, overwritten style without respecting past, which is typical in earthquake area.
The design responds to Sichuan’s hot and humid climate. Sunshade device, natural ventilation and heat reduction are important elements considered in design. We also explore to maximize the use of local resource and craftsmanship which can be acquired. Local materials such as wood, brick and bamboo are used for windows, walls, and ceilings. The recycled bricks from earthquake are used in pavement. Cast-in-situ concrete are used for exposed structure. The construction is completely done by a local contractor. The construction cost is well controlled within the economical budget of RMB 1,500 yuan per square meter.
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