Shenzhen Nanshan Foreign Language School

  • area / size 583,404 sqft
  • Completed 2018
  • Location Shenzhen, China,
  • Studio Link-Arc worked to create a multi-faceted space for learning at Shenzhen Nanshan Foreign Language School in Shenzhen, China.

    The Nanshan Foreign Language School (NFLS) is a 54,000m2 elementary and middle school campus that includes regular and special classrooms, a library, a gymnasium, an indoor swimming pool, an auditorium, and a faculty dormitory, as well as dining halls and dedicated playgrounds. Located in the Nanshan district of Shenzhen, the NFLS campus represents the final piece of a decade-long redevelopment process that saw a condensed urban village transformed into a contemporary vertical city. Surrounded by high-density residential development and commercial towers, the main challenge for the project was to regenerate an urban condition broken by contemporary development.

    Strategy I: Horizontal vs. Vertical
    Connections with nature encourage creativity and promote new modes of thinking. One of the main objectives of the project was to create an intimate environment for teaching that would connect students to the natural world beyond the site. The dense verticality of the neighborhood surrounding the site made this objective even more pressing—the desire to create opportunities for students and teachers to interact with nature is a driving force behind the design, leading the design team to create a horizontal, low-density school.

    The NFLS campus is conceived as a sweeping horizontal garden that contrasts the dense, vertical urban environment it serves. The school intentionally breaks the distinction between building and open space to create a linear hybrid that includes closed spaces, semi-enclosed zones, and open green spaces. This low-rise composition allows the school to create an open oasis within a densely packed residential community that allows students to move seamlessly between indoors and outdoors. This enables the school to create vibrant campus life and to reestablish a connection to nature within the site.

    Strategy II: Interweaving the Garden
    The linear nature of the teaching volumes creates many architectural possibilities. These volumes meander across the site, splitting seamlessly to create six unique courtyards, serving as semi-private enclaves for teaching and play. Each courtyard has a unique title: Entry Courtyard, Gathering Courtyard, Elementary School Courtyard, Middle School Courtyard, Sports Courtyard, and the Recreation Courtyard. Each open space is designed with a spatial theme and architectural strategy appropriate to its intended use. The continuous ceiling above the ground floor is painted orange, unifying the open spaces of the campus and creating a sheltered public zone that provides access to every space in the project, thus responding to Shenzhen’s rainy climate.

    Strategy III: Thin Section/ Ecological Innovation
    The NFLS project intentionally breaks with conventional school design principles that typically divide a site into buildings and functional zones, opting instead for a sectional organization that maximizes access to light and views for each classroom. This strategy allows for multiple sectional variations and creates diverse spatial conditions for recreation, interaction, and education.

    Design: Studio Link-Arc
    Design Team: Yichen Lu, Hyunjoo Lee, Dongyul Kim, Kenneth Namkung, Hyungsun Choi, Ching-Tsung Huang, Yihong Deng, Yoko Fujita, Simeng Qin, Qingyue Gao, Viviana Wang, Mariarosa Doardo, Jialin Yuan, Wenyun Qian, Xinhui Wen
    Photography: Shengliang Su