Yi Zhong De Sheng Secondary School, Foshan, China, by Gravity Green. Is it possible to create an educational environment that integrates play and learning? Most people have been brought up in a traditional educational structure based on determination of rules, obedience, homogenization, collective thinking, and memorization of tedious knowledge. This is often accompanied by dull environments and rigid schedules. China’s state education system is often considered to be both rigorous and traditional, based on the philosophy of one-sidedly passing on knowledge from generation to generation. In reality, the quality of education China’s students receive varies greatly. Parents often invest a lot, depending on where they live and how ambitious their choice of school, making decent education a privilege.
Yi Zhong De Sheng Secondary School
But what is decent? We are beginning to witness advances in education, with innovative proposals related to integrative learning processes being implemented as an interesting option for a more effective and inspirational approach to education. Foshan, a city located in the province of Guangdong in China, is the location of the Yi Zhong De Sheng Secondary School, a 2009 campus enhancement project designed by Gravity Green Limited and Frank Yu and Claude Wong of Gravity Green Partnership architects. Gravity Green is a young studio with a clear vision of design called “Smart and Great”, which pursues comprehensive, sustainable, and responsive design solutions to highlight the uniqueness of each project.The Learning Playscape The importance of play in learning and development from childhood to maturity is vital at each stage of life and in all its different forms, styles, and meanings. Children respond in a positive way when information is delivered in a cheerful space, in a non-academic environment or activity. In other words, learning should be an interactive, virtuous cycle in which children participate actively by integrating observation, exploration, intuition, and application of many other processes of human behavior stimulated by the natural environment. Therefore, the scenery of Yi Zhong De Sheng Secondary School was designed and remodeled into a huge encyclopedia, allowing students to explore and to interact in this massive outdoor classroom. As a result, Gravity Green received the Merit Award of the HKILA Design Awards for the Yi Zhong De Sheng renovation project. Related Articles:
- How to Grow a School Garden – Book Review
- Dyslexia in Design – Is Dyslexia a Problem or an Advantage to a Designer?
- 10 Great Places to Study Landscape Architecture in Europe
The 10th anniversary of the school was an excuse to enhance the old-style open space and change the appearance of the school as a whole. The building has a built area of 12,500 square meters and is home to 2,800 students. The complex comprises a display of blocks with open spaces in between, which suggested an opportunity to transform these voids into dynamic and stimulating learning spaces to rejuvenate the complex as a whole.Themed Courtyards The courtyards were organized and selected to depict three academic subjects: physics, geography, and art. From these broad fields, complex topics were chosen, such as the Universal Law of Gravity, Law of Energy Conservation, Energy Generation, Kinetic Energy Mounds or Wind Farms, and the Law of Gravity and Demography. These laws and principles were then transformed cleverly into Isaac Newton’s Gravity Law Garden, the Geo-map Courtyard, and the Energy Generation Law Garden. Using a Variety of Shapes and Colours The themed gardens and installations use a variety of shapes and elements (color cubes as benches, colorful 3d typography as signage, etc.) and all these elements are integrated harmoniously with natural elements and textures. The purpose of using these pieces is to capture the curiosity of students and provoke their desire to touch, interact, examine, and experience by their own will. Multi-functional Spaces These courtyards are not only used for educational purposes, they are also a hotspot for social interaction among students who spend their breaks and spare time relaxing in the grass, close to the trees, bushes, ornamental grasses, and flowers that beautifully embellish the school. A mixture of trees offers much-desired shade during hot summer days, creating a perfect atmosphere for contemplation and study. The design studio selected natural wooden materials to contrast with the concrete tiles placed in the courtyards to suggest different areas within the public space. Opening up Possibilities A playful learning space opens up possibilities for individuals to become intrinsically motivated to define for themselves what to learn, how to deal with change, and to discover, moved by their own curiosity and desire. This enhancement project is an example of how this bottom line can be translated conceptually in the spheres of architecture and landscape, and shows the positive impact of integrated clever design. Full Project Credits: Project name: Yi Zhong De Sheng Secondary School Location: Foshan, China Client: Deming Education Investment Company Limited Landscape Architect: Gravity Green Limited Architecture Firm: Gravity Partnership Limited Design date: 2009 Completion date: 2010 Site area: Approximately 12,500 square meters Awards: The Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects, Merit Award: Overseas Landscape Project 2012 Show on Google Maps Recommended Reading:
- Landscape Architecture: An Introduction by Robert Holden
- Landscape Architecture, Fifth Edition: A Manual of Environmental Planning and Design by Barry Starke
Article written by Claudia Canales Return to HomepagePublished in