Collaboration is key to good design – in any language or culture. As design architect for the new 2400-student Zhongguancun Elementary School #3, TKWA is working closely with school representatives and design design team partner, China Architecture, Design & Research Group (CADREG). One of the largest architecture, engineering and construction firms in China, CADREG projects include the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Capital Museum in Beijing, and other prominent buildings throughout China. In late January, TKWA design team members Allen Washatko and Ethan Bartos are spending a week in Beijing to further develop the elementary school building design. This is the third trip to Beijing since Fall, 2012 for TKWA team members.
The TKWA school design features a semi-circular building wrapped around a central courtyard/athletic complex on a six-acre site. This unique building geometry creates multi-level indoor-outdoor classroom and learning spaces while helping to orient students and other occupants throughout the building. A central courtyard, used daily for ceremonial gathering and athletic activities, forms the cultural and emotional core of campus. Approximately 40,000 square meters (430,000 square feet) in size, the building design includes four levels of above ground classroom, administrative, performance and related educational spaces, plus two underground levels reserved for parking and a multi-purpose gymnasium/athletic complex.
TKWA-designed Learning Pods and studios will help teachers develop student critical thinking and problem-solving skills. An innovative “School within a School” design divides the building into smaller “neighborhoods” to give a greater sense of identity and pride of ownership among students, faculty, parents, and the community. This organization allows self-contained, age-appropriate learning, yet fosters interaction among all age levels.