So you think Beijing’s international schools are fancy? Check out Beijing No. 4 High School, located in Fangshan just outside of Beijing’s southwest fifth ring road, which aims to reconnect students with nature and their responsibility for the earth. The school is located on a 4.5 hectare bit of land, and is built with the intention to introduce China’s urban students to open spaces filled with nature, with full utilization of open spaces, greenery, and natural light.
The building itself has a lower and an upper level, the two of which are connected at the middle bit in various ways, to signify the complicated relationship between formal and information education spaces. This also means that interesting spaces and enclosures are created throughout the structure.
The lower part contains the school’s public areas: the canteen, auditorium, gymnasium, the swimming pool, and even an organic farm with 36 garden plots, whilst the upper part has the classrooms, labs, dormitories, and administrative areas. Although all areas seem like separately shaped entities, they do all connect eventually.
The abundance of greenery and innovative design aims for the school to be the first triple green star rated school in China, a standard exceeding LEED gold. LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was originally developed by the US Green Building Council, and helps building owners to be more environmentally responsible.
The certification is awarded to green buildings, homes, and neighborhoods if their design, construction, operation, and maintenance meet certain standards.
In order to meet these criteria the school has built two large underground water retention basins to collect rain water from the athletics field in order to provide for the garden and farm plots. There is also a geothermal ground-source heat pump, which provides energy for the public spaces’ heating, ensuring sustainability.
Photos: Xia Zhi via Open Architecture