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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
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.

Garden School in Beijing, China by OPEN Architecture

May 5th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: OPEN Architecture

If there is one thing that we have to put above all other issues for the 21st century, that is probably the vulnerability of nature. Ancient Chinese philosophy had always centered on the harmony between people and nature. In the decades to come, and amidst all the looming environmental crisis, it is urgent to bring the ancient philosophy back to the core of our education, and put it in the context of new challenges ahead. With this in mind, OPEN has designed a new kind of school system that provides a balanced and joyful learning environment integrated with farms and gardens.

Bird Eye

  • Architects:OPEN Architecture
  • Project: Garden School
  • Location: Changyang, Fangshan District, Beijing
  • Design Year: 2010 – 2012
  • Status: Architectural Design
  • Client: Vanke + Cofco
  • Program: 36-class Junior and Senior high school, classrooms, auditorium, gym, dining hall, dormitory and sport facilities
  • Building Area: 51,000 m²
  • Land Area: 45,332 m²
  • Local Design Institute: Beijing Institute of Architectural Design
  • Sustainaiblity Consultant: Tsinghua Building Energy Research Center

Outdoor Classroom

Project Team:                   

  • Competition Phase: Li Hu, Huang Wenjing
    Zhou Tingting, Yu Qingbo, Felipe Escudero, Julia Mok, Lu Chen, Cheng Yanwei, Fan Jie, Scott Craven, Chris Gerdes, Beatrice Lau.    
  • Project Phase: Li Hu, Huang Wenjing
    Daijiro Nakayama, Ye Qing, Zhou Tingting, Thomas Batzenschlager, Wang Yifan, Xue Wencan, Ami Kito, Tao Wei, Simina Cuc, Zhao Yao


Conventional teaching spaces like classrooms and laboratories are organized within a tree-like structure which provides eco-friendly and efficiently connected spaces. Advantage of passive solar and natural ventilation/lighting is maximized with this semi-organic shaped infrastructure. While the “new” teaching spaces – more creative and larger social spaces are integrated within the park on the ground. Their architecture gives the form to the organic park and garden spaces, while connecting with the conventional teaching spaces above.

Grand Stand

These two types of teaching landscape, the conventional and the new, the orthodox and the free spirited, the curriculum and the extra curriculum, the collective and the individual, the necessary and the optional, are juxtaposed and balanced with each other. While the students are cultivated to respect, to balance and to protect the nature, they also learn to balance between these two types of teaching and learning, and ultimately be able to freely navigate and integrate all these contradictions, and better prepare themselves for the future.

From Sports Field

Different types of public spaces are the key to re-establish important social relationships that are often lacking in adolescents growing up in the internet age, be it among the students, or between students and teachers. In the new school, classrooms are extended to the exterior, the gardens, while the playground is brought into the interior and climate proof spaces. Together with a dominant circulation and social spine, pockets of public spaces formed by sprouts like cantilevers off the building volume help to create a web of social spaces. These are the places for people to meet and interact casually. They function like organic fluid holding together the various types of spaces of learning.


It is our hope that the physical environment of the new school will inspire and foster healthier environment of learning and to better prepare our kids for the future challenges.

Interior Lobby

Interior Library

Interior Lecture hall

Interior Gym

Interior climbing


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Category: School

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