There is a stream flowing through the two ancient roundhouses located at Xiashi village, Fujian province, China.
Mr. Li Xiaodong, who is the mentor of Architecture School of Tsinghua University, together with over 100 students, has built a bridge school between the two ancient roundhouses. Most of the building materials were collected from the neighborhood. This architecture has two amphitheaters and a library in small space. More than an elementary school, this place has become a public cultural center for residents nearby.
The newborn bridge school has brought fresh air to the community, and shown us the engineer’s great concern regarding environmental issues.
The designer Mr. Li Xiaodong’s initial inspiration was the idea that “a bridge, over the river and be the connection between roundhouses.”
He designed the classroom, library and community activity area all together on the bridge. The side hallway of the classroom can lead you to the central library, and there are doors at both ends of the classroom facing the two roundhouses.
One side of the classroom is designed as a revolving door; the other is a sliding door. This makes it possible to convert the classroom into a stage for residents’ use after school.
The architecture has become a great public square for the village by connecting the two roundhouses and the surrounding open space. There is a roundhouse at one side of the square and a fine concise stage at the other side. Every evening and night, residents in the village come here and play around spontaneously. The design not only provides children with schools and classrooms, but also works as a communication center for the entire village.
Underneath the school, there is a Z-bridge suspended by steel wire which the children use when going to school.
The entire architecture was built under the steel frame structure. The inner space of steel frame is used as classrooms and a public space has set up between the two of them. Outside the classroom, there is a corridor which is covered with wood bars and fixed by steel keels. The design can cut off the outside interference but the distant landscape can be enjoyed at the same time.
Architecture design sometimes falls into two extremes when dealing with traditional environment, one is to exaggerate the expression of modern technology; the other is to linger in the form of nostalgia. As to the blueprint of bridge school, Mr. Li Xiaodong has found a balance between these extremes by using local materials.
It was not easy during the process of designing and building the bridge school. The sudden financial crisis reduced the budget to half. The government funded the remaining parts after the engineer’s great efforts in persuading the government and this kept the construction plan alive until the construction was finished. The whole project costs six hundred and fifty thousand RMB upon the completion.
Chinese designers are working hard to improve the space quality of village communities and update their life styles.
Author: Ye Li
Editor: Yifan Ding Translator：Cameron Xu