This project was initiated because a long-term shortage of space at the school and the increasing demand on existing spaces in recent years. The two major difficulties were to obtain land and to raise funds for the project. Finally, the new building had to be established within the only vacant space-a small courtyard space surrounded by the existing buildings of the School of Architecture. The project depends on sponsorship by the Foundation and on Tsinghua alumni for funding.
Project name: New Building for the School of Architecture
Location: Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
Studio name: Li Xiaodong Atelier
Architect: Li Xiaodong
Design team: LI Ye, LIAN Xiaogang, LIU Lixun
Area: about 3000m2
Photography credits: Li Xiaodong Atelier
Because of its historical background, the old building of the School of Architecture attached more importance to form and style than to the essence and experience of space. The new building for the School of Architecture should not only be able to handle the encountered issues and meet the functional requirements, but also convey a clear attitude-that space and form should not be simply determined by style, but respond to the purpose of the building and the issues it faces.
Issues and Concept
- Space efficiency
The conditions and requirements of the project, which include the highly constrained building site, demand a highly efficient use of space in order to meet the building’s program requirements and effectively control construction costs.
The 7.5m×7.5m×7.5m cubic space is the most important unit size from which to create the spatial module system as it is based on the original settings for a studio of 30 students. Form this unit, the entire building volume-the 22.5m×22.5m×22.5m cubic box-is piled up. This systematic structure decreases the complexity and increases the efficiency of the construction process. As a consequence, it can also effectively reduce the project cost.
- Consistency and distinguishability
Surrounded by existing buildings, the building will be highly visible and intimately connected to the other parts of the school. The new architectural form should be coordinated with the style of the existing buildings but it should also be distinguishable from them.
The façade as screen will work as a filter. It will have a transitional and softening effect, blurring and filtering the dissonances between old and new but not blocking the transmission of light. The surface space that is composed of 30-degree-angle lattice panels is capable of sun-shading and reducing energy consumption. On the other hand, it also helps to integrate the equipment spaces, such as the outdoor unit of air conditioning, which maintains the integrity of a building.
Sustainability has always been a concern of the architect and it is a basic issue the building must be required to face. The project attempts to introduce natural light and to guide the natural flow of air by means of spatial arrangement (the atrium space), so as to shape a comfortable environment without excessive energy consumption.
The building is a 22.5m×22.5m×22.5m cube, in order to introduce natural light and to facilitate the natural flow of air. The 3×3 grid building cube is moderately raised to create an open space at the lower layer and generate a horizontal flow of air. The central unit of the 3×3 grid spatial system is pulled out to form an vertical open box that will introduce natural light to every floor and provide a stack for the circulation of air up through the building. The partition doors of each floor are equipped with airflow devices that will allow the air in the rooms to naturally flow to the atrium.
For a school building, it is essential to create public space that inspires participation, communication, and a host of activities. Implementing and strengthening the public aspects of the building is a critical part of the design.