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School Library with Theatre near Shanghai, OPEN Architecture, Photo: Jonathan Leijonhufvud

The Blue Whale: School Library with Theatre near Shanghai

This is no enormous school complex, but rather loose groupings of buildings in the green − this is Beijing’s Open Architecture’s guiding vision for the new campus of the Qinghu Pinghe International School. Around 2,000 children from 3 to 18 are taught here in several different languages. The architects have now completed the cultural heart of the campus, which is located on an area 60 km from the centre of Shanghai. Beneath its ultramarine-coloured roof, which is perforated with many skylights, the Bibliotheater unites two theatre halls as well as the school library. The latter, flooded with daylight, is on the upper level and is divided into several tiered areas respectively devoted to various age groups. The two theatre halls lie opposite each other on the ground floor. On the roof of the smaller one, the architects have created a terrace for the pupils. The main entrance leads inside the building under the towering bow of the building, likewise all in blue. On some ceilings, window soffits and the upholstery of the theatre seats, the colour of the façade seeps into the interior. Otherwise, light-coloured wood and white drywall dominate here. 

The overall shape of the building, which calls to mind either a whale or a ship’s hull, was possibly inspired by the many canals and lakes found in the surrounding landscape. Particularly in the reading room, the new structure also shares a certain resemblance with Mecanoo’s university library in Delft. The commonalities include the horseshoe-shaped wall of shelving that encompasses the space and the large, central oculus that allows daylight in. 

As important as it is for school operations, the Bibliotheater stands closer to the edge of campus. All the same, the architects hope that it will develop into a cultural attraction for the nearby residential district outside of school hours.

Further Information:

Partner architects on site: Shanghai Yuangou Architects and Consultants 
Technical building equipment, facade and structural design: CABR Technology

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