flow(t): gaoxin middle school

Year: 2023
Size: 50,000 m2
Type: educational
Status: competition
Location: Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
Client: Shenzhen Nanshan Public Works Bureau

Partners in charge: Shoutuo Lyu, Chen Chen, Nicola Saladino
Design team: Marco Navarro, Litian Cheng, Siqi Xiao, Javier Pelaez, Yujia Qian, Poon Gin Yoon, Xinran Zheng, Yi Liu

Green architecture consultant: Black Hole Ecological Environment Technology (Shenzhen)
Landscape consultant: Meikang Li

Extreme weather conditions are more and more frequent and climate change is no longer an abstract and distant narrative, but a reality that affects our daily lives. The problem is that while the national government is making considerable investments to achieve its 2060 carbon neutrality target, most Chinese citizens still live a very "high-carbon" lifestyle.
During the site visit to Gaoxin School we witnessed a scenario that is revealing of today’s contradictions. It was a rainy day, not too hot nor not too bright outside, and yet most classrooms had the AC on at full power and the doors open for ventilation, thick curtains blocked any sunshine while artificial lighting provided a stable “neutral” environment for teaching. Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident: a similar setting would often occur in many schools in south China.
Most of our kids lack any personal connection with natural cycles: from energy to water cycle to waste, everything is happening in hidden layers. The students we met in Gaoxin will be in their 50s when 2060 comes; what kind of lifestyle will they need to adjust to by then? Schools should not only train good students, but they should create the conscious citizens of the future.
We believe Gaoxin can become a model of inspiration for a new carbon neutral lifestyle. Thus its design should embed energy, water and even food production as visible elements of the spatial layout.

We named our vision FLOW(T), as a dual concept generated by the combination of floating (a porous mass floating on a large sponge that demonstrates how water, plants and energy systems work) and flowing (interweaving the new and the old with a minimal intervention).
Rather than placing a massive slab with a running track on the roof, the new building floats on top of the ground, doubling up the active surfaces while at the same time maximizing the building permeability to storm water: the new courtyards effectively work as a sponge to collect the rain from the rest of the campus.
The new and the old buildings are stitched together in a cohesive massing that allows a smooth spatial and programmatic continuity. The old courtyards “flow” into the new voids creating a new interconnected green system that enriches the quality of the public space and improves the local micro-climatic conditions for outdoor activities and the practice of different sports.

In local climatic conditions, AC is usually on between the end of April and the end of October; in the same months the prevailing wind is from S-E. By carving the original building with a series of voids and creating a continuous flow between the existing courtyards and the new porous massing, we are able to maximize natural ventilation, thus reducing the need for AC to a considerably shorter period of time.
Shenzhen climate is characterized by big daily changes in terms of temperature and humidity. Our active public spaces are not only multifunctional in terms of their spatial character, but they also provide a large variety of micro-climates that help outdoor classes respond to different weather conditions.

The program layout is quite thoroughly reshuffled. In order to offer equal conditions to all the students, all the general classrooms (original + added ones) are located within the old building, while the labs and the other flexible classrooms are moved to the new building, with better floor heights and larger floor areas. The library and the more public programs are moved to the south entrance with a direct access from the street, while the canteen/event space and the gym are located in the north, in the proximity of the YUEHAI center, creating a programmatic continuity between the two buildings.
The new central axis effectively stitches together the new and the old building and operates on multiple levels: it provides a space for recreational activities that is easily reachable from any classroom during the 10-min break, it connects all the different levels through smooth transitions (stairs and ramps) and its generous dimensions allow for all sorts of uses: resting, sheltered physical exercises, exhibitions, market, etc.
The library, in combination with the auditorium, the café, the music classrooms and the students’ center are designed to work as a community center. A direct access from the street allows the facility to operate independently from the rest of the school, while granting are the same time the maximum security to the rest of the campus.
The original fragmented roofs are all connected to the new playground. As a sort of performative machine / fun circulation system, the roof condenses many of the different layers of the overlapped campus model: sports, leisure, urban farming are distributed along the new and the old building and a continuous loop of PV panels provides solar energy and shading at the same time.

FLOW(T) is a school campus that embraces nature. Only when natural cycles are truly perceived as part of our daily lives, they can spark children’s curiosity and inspire them to build a more sustainable future.

今年夏天,一系列极端天气事件频繁发生:无论是五月温度爆表的深圳,还是七月气温频频突破40度的北京,越来越让我们意识到,气候变化不再是抽象遥远的宏大叙事,而是直接影响你我的生活现实。一方面,国家在全力推进2060年的碳中和目标; 另一方面,个人的生活方式仍然非常“高碳”。




校园入口处的社区文化中心是空间最为灵活丰富的部分,包含图书馆、咖啡厅、报告厅、音乐教室等。图书馆分别设置有社会门厅和学生门厅,使其方便社区使用的同时,不对校园管理造成额外压力。对于原有教学楼的教室,我们采取模块化轻质立面构件单元,确保在短暂的暑假可以完成立面和屋面的全面升级。遮阳百叶随高度升高而增加密度,使得不同楼层得热均好,室内光线柔和舒适; 重新错位布置的空调外机,与竖直布置相比可节约将近30%的单体空调能耗。屋面设置绿化,其上呈45°布置太阳能光伏板,形成遮阳和隔热的双重功能。