Year: 2015
Size: 46,000 m2
Type: educational
Status: competition
Location: Shanghai, China
Client: Eurocampus

Partners in charge: Chen Chen, Federico Ruberto, Nicola Saladino
Design team: Lingfeng Li, Yang Xue, Mengze Xu

Eurocampus Shanghai is planned to host over 2000 students, with a variety of ages ranging from three to eighteen years. The campus is shared by a French and a German school, each running its own kindergarten, primary school, middle school and high school, while sharing common facilities such as the sports and the cultural center. The designers were asked to propose solutions to the following challenges: defining the spatial configuration of public and private areas for various teaching clusters, managing multiple interweaving circulations, fitting a large amount of outdoor spaces in such a high-density plot.

Our design strives at constituting a building that, managing complexity through dynamism and interconnectivity, is able to cope with the over-regulations. The educational space nowadays is afflicted by hyper restrictive norms that reduce the potential of architecture to shape the school as the ultimate space of knowledge.

Thus we aimed at a complex organism with a common principle at its core that defines the site, the buildings, the two schools requirements, the specificity of the various teaching clusters and their correlated classes; a holistic vision that integrates the macro and the micro requirements into one unique organization; a scalar composition that shows at different levels the same characteristics, elements, specificities, that moderates gently its “molar” structures to its “molecular” cells, and vice versa; a building designed neither as an imposing unity nor as a mere sum of discrete elements, but a building formed as a network of relations.

The general diagram, the massing and the clusters of the building are designed according to three compositional and processual principles, which we call “multiplied ground”, “porosity”, and “connectivity / autonomy”. The three principles work as a cascading formula, a process of diversification of an initially relatively “flat and abstract” surface.

“Multiplied Ground” is the principle that maximizes the amount of active surfaces, splitting and displacing them on different interrelated and interconnected levels. It is a strategy that works particularly well for a high-density campus, especially with a distributed network of ever changing outdoor spaces and nodal filters that can facilitate the diversification of connections and the typology of enclosures. “Multiplying” is the strategy that smoothens up the transition between the landscape and the building. Given the extreme density of activities on the site, it avoids the creation of a final massing that is oppressive and self-imposing.

The “Porosity” of the massing is our way of distancing internally the activities, producing “filters” of privacy. It’s a principle that works in accordance to and together with the multilayered system of connections previously described. It is a strategy to maximize the natural ventilation and the shading, developed in accordance to the external nodal conjunctions of the networks, and the internal break-through and passage ways of the schools. The amplification of the building porosity is shaped and studied to pair the internal clusters defined by the brief and to allow different degrees of permeability and accessibility.

Finally, the concept of “connectivity / autonomy” works as a conceptual tool, a way for us to sort and refine the two previous principles. It is a layer that helps organize the multiplicity of the very diverse activities in accordance to their needs, generating an overall balanced, congruous and consistent building massing. It is a way to assure and evaluate the needed privacy and the level of connectivity of each single activity.