Shenzhen, China | 2020 | International Competition


‘Education’ is a multi-faceted term. Although it is more typically associated with homework, exams, and classroom instruction, education can more broadly be defined as an atmosphere of growth and learning, embodied in the curiosity of students and the interactions they have with themselves, their teachers, and their environments. Accordingly, we believe that what happens outside of the classroom is as important as what happens inside of it.


The type of educational environment we hope to engender is perhaps best modeled by Silicon Valley in California, with its own sense of community, and the chance encounters and meetings that took place between and after classroom instruction.


Architecturally and urbanistically, this suggests that the spaces outside of the classrooms, including dormitories, canteens, and public spaces between buildings, are of paramount importance to fostering growth, collaboration, and companionship among students and teachers alike.


Our proposal achieves this primarily by means of an architectural ‘mat,’ a groundwork of teaching facilities, courtyards, study areas, and library facilities that function as much as an elevated landscape as a work of architecture. On top of and around the mat, we conceive of the campus as a series of green plazas and courtyards, each shaped by their surrounding buildings and embodying a distinct aspect of student life. Sequentially counter-clockwise from south to north, these include the entry court, academic plaza, upper plaza, and northern dormitories, collectively forming a chain of open spaces that wraps around the whole plaza and embraces the playing field and flag raising plaza at the center of the campus.


Studies have continually proven that beautiful school and campus environments often lead to higher rates of productivity and happiness among students. Accordingly, as our architectural ‘mat’ affords the creation of new public plazas and open spaces, it also allows for the introduction of nature into the campus and larger urban setting of Shenzhen.

Project Info

Finalist International Competition  |  Gross Floor Area: 110,000m²  |  Type: School Campus Design


Project Credits


Jesse Reiser + Nanako Umemoto


Design Team

Jasmine Lee, Julian Harake, Katherine Leung


Interns and Assistants

Piao Liu, Melinda Denn


General Consultant

THAD (Architectural Design and Research Institute of Tsinghua University)

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