WSP Architects is an international architecture firm with a reputation for designing innovative and sustainable buildings. One of their most notable projects is the Hangzhou Normal University in Zhejiang Province, China. The university’s campus covers an area of over 16 hectares, and its design reflects a blend of modern architecture with traditional Chinese cultural elements. WSP Architects’ design philosophy for the university focused on creating a campus that is not only functional but also inspiring and environmentally sustainable. The resulting structure is a perfect example of how modern technology and innovative design can come together to create a truly exceptional building.

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Front View _©hznu

Hangzhou Normal University (HNU) is one of the top universities in Hangzhou, China, and was established in 1908. In recent years, HNU has been expanding, and it needed a new campus. WSP Architects, an international architecture firm, designed the new campus for HNU. The new campus spans 214 hectares and includes 33 buildings, making it one of the largest university campuses in China.

The overall design philosophy of the new HNU campus by WSP Architects was to create a space that would inspire and encourage learning, while also incorporating the traditional Chinese architecture style with a modern twist. The architects achieved this by creating a harmonious balance between the new and the old, using the ancient architectural style with the latest technology and materials.

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Skin section_©world architecture community

The planning of the new campus was carefully thought out to maximize the natural resources available. The campus is surrounded by lush greenery and wetlands, which is utilized as a natural cooling system for the campus. The architects also ensured that the buildings were positioned in a way that would maximize the amount of natural light available, reducing the amount of artificial lighting required.

The design of the buildings on the HNU campus is a blend of traditional Chinese architecture with modern elements. The buildings feature the traditional Chinese courtyard design, which provides natural ventilation and a sense of community. The courtyards are used as gathering spaces for students, faculty, and staff to socialize and study. The buildings also incorporate modern elements such as floor-to-ceiling windows, creating a light and airy atmosphere.

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More than a dozen autonomous but completely open universities, each with a unique architectural style, make up the new campus planning, a complex puzzle. We have design tasks for the administrative center, archives, adult education center, institute of Hangzhou urbanization, central library, teacher and student recreation center, hotel and reception center, international conference centre, theatre, and central plaza that were all arranged by the planner in the centre of these colleges.

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The style of the HNU campus is a modern interpretation of traditional Chinese architecture. The buildings are designed with a focus on simplicity and minimalism, with an emphasis on functionality. This sophisticated facility’s architectural layout relies on a strict modular system that is used to regulate the plane, elevation, and construction details in order to ensure rational economic cost, achieve a high level of completion quality, and reduce the strain on future maintenance and operations. Also, it is a highly adaptable modular system, and therefore made the targeted alterations to meet the various needs of the 10 primary roles.

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Canteen _©Hangzhou normal university
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Library_©Hangzhou normal university

The concept of the HNU campus by WSP Architects was to create a sustainable and energy-efficient space. The architects achieved this by incorporating the latest technology in energy conservation, including the use of geothermal heating and cooling systems, solar panels, and rainwater harvesting. The campus also features a centralized energy management system, which ensures that energy is used efficiently throughout the campus.


In terms of innovation, the HNU campus by WSP Architects features several technological advancements. The campus is equipped with a state-of-the-art library, which includes a digital media center, and the latest in digital learning technology. The campus also features a smart energy management system, which allows for real-time monitoring of energy usage throughout the campus, ensuring that energy is used efficiently.

In conclusion, the HNU campus by WSP Architects is a remarkable structure that highlights the firm’s dedication to sustainability, innovation, and cultural preservation. Combining traditional Chinese architecture with modern elements creates a visually stunning space that inspires and encourages learning. The use of sustainable materials and technology ensures that the campus is energy-efficient, reducing its impact on the environment.

View _©Ronen Bekerman


Chen, Y., 2017. Campus Planning and Design of Hangzhou Normal University. Modern Garden, (03), pp.70-73.

Designing Buildings Wiki. 2022. Hangzhou Normal University, Zhejiang Province, China. [online] Available at:,_Zhejiang_Province,_China 

Griffiths, S., 2019. WSP’s Hangzhou Normal University takes inspiration from nature. The Architects’ Journal. [online] Available at: 

Daly, L. (2021, March 29). Hangzhou Normal University / WSP Architects. ArchDaily.

Haidar, A. and Liu, Y., 2017. Building Energy Efficiency Analysis Based on the Building Energy Consumption Model. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 923(1), p.012071.

Huang, Y., 2016. Campus Design and Management of Hangzhou Normal University. Modern Garden, (12), pp.63-65.

WSP. 2019. Hangzhou Normal University. [online] Available at: