Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
Phone: +41 61 385 5757
Tree Village is the name of the existing site. The planned campus of 350,000sqm is in the north-western district of Haidian in Beijing, directly situated on the fifth ring and in close proximity to the most important universities in China. The proposed development is a new model initiated by a private investor where education for adults is combined with recreation, culture and commerce.
Our idea was to develop a pattern specifically for this project that could be applied as a design tool at multiple scales, from the largest scale of the master plan to the smallest scale of a floor tile. First, the pattern is applied over the whole site and then superimposed with a simple grid of streets, thus creating the building-block structure. The resultant plan merges the characteristics and qualities of the typical Beijing street grid and courtyard houses with the zig-zag pathways of traditional Chinese gardens. A north-south axis connects a series of important spaces, from river-front to central square to public park. Meanwhile, passages within and between different blocks and courtyards provide relaxing meandering paths or fast direct shortcuts for frequent users.
The building blocks consist out of intertwined programme-bands. This results in a diverse language of courtyards and spaces as well as main pedestrian axes, squares and small parks that give an individual character to each parcel. The blocks themselves are organised in vertical layers. The ground floor is defined by large independent free forms that accommodate bigger public programs such as shops and assembly halls. The first and second floors consist of a continuous network of classrooms aligned along single-loaded walkways and wrapped around irregular courtyards for views and easy orientation. The simple rectangular rooms can be easily sub-divided or combined to give enormous flexibility in space combination and access for schools of different sizes. The top floor is made up of independent smaller volumes for special programs such as cafés and reading rooms. Like a tree house, these spaces sit on the gently undulating sloped roof with open views towards the city or the mountain range to the west.
The facade system is an overlay of the same pattern at three scales. This system maintains an overall identity, but also adds variety to each building through the distinct application of different layers and scales in each façade, corresponding to functional needs. A large scale pattern becomes the building structure, composed of columns in eight different angles linked together as a network. Similar to a traditional truss this structure results in a column-free interior and an efficient seismic response. The medium scale pattern is composed of open frames in 18 shapes. The frames are joined and attached to the structure externally, in a random way, like clusters of leaves. They can be used as a sub-structure to support small scale panels, as a trellis for climbing foliage, or as a frame for large special-shaped openings in a solid wall. The small scale pattern consists of a standard repetitive panel that can be attached to the sub-structure. The panel can function as a shading device against the harsh sun in Beijing or as a visual screen between classrooms and corridors around an internal courtyard.
Herzog & de Meuron, 2006
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