Bridge School, China / Li XiaoDong Atelier

Architect                          : Atelier Li XiaoDong
Location                           : Xiashi, Fujian Province, China
Client                                : Xiashi Village
Project Year                  : 2008
Area                                  : 240.0 sqm

The “Bridge School” bridges the two parts of the small village of Xiashi that lie on either side of a small creek that runs through the village. The structure is created by two steel trusses that span the creek with the space between them housing the functions of the school. Suspended from the structure and running below it is a pedestrian bridge for the people of the village to use. 

28 meters long and 8.5 meters wide, the whole building is a steel truss structure with the interior space of the truss used as classrooms. There is a public space between the two classrooms and outside the classrooms is an aisle that acts as a visual corridor between the classrooms and the building’s skin. The outer surface of the building is clad with wood screens. This tulle-like skin keeps the view of pedestrians directly outside the spaces from disturbing class activities but allows the waterscape further away to be viewed clearly. Underneath the building is a public Z-shaped bridge suspended by steel wires. To avoid a conflict with the squares ends of the building, the architects deliberately altered the direction of the bridge as it approaches the square. Without a “showy” volume or pompous details, but by creating poetic space using the language of modern construction, the building sits in appropriate contrast to the village and catalyzes a string of positive possibilities.

Contemporary architecture in a traditional context seems to fall into one of two camps. One exaggerates and indulges in modern technical expression. The other is nostalgic for preindustrial times. In the design of the Bridge School, the architects tried to find a way between the two extremes by using a humble (in its straightforwardness) modern technical language.

Small and modern in design, with no reference to the area’s traditional building style, the school has nonetheless become the physical and spiritual centre of what was a declining village. Placed in such a way that it addresses its surroundings, the Bridge School connects the village together, providing a central, social space.

The broader social aspect of the project was part of the brief, which was developed with the school principal and head of the village to answer community needs rather than simply those of a primary school.

The broader social aspect of the project was part of the brief, which was developed with the school principal and head of the village to answer community needs rather than simply those of a primary school.

A public library separates the two classrooms and the ends of each classroom, or the two ends of the school can be opened up, creating open stages at either end of the building that are integrated with the public spaces outside.

The stage at the northern end can be used for performances, with the toulou as a backdrop. The result is a project that has successfully invigorated the entire community, encapsulating social sustainability through architectural intervention.

Video : Bridge School by Atelier Li XiaoDong 

Lixiaodong.net. (2017). Lixiaodong Atelier. [online] Available at: http://www.lixiaodong.net/indax.html# [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].

Divisare. (2017). Li Xiaodong Atelier · Bridge School. [online] Available at: https://divisare.com/projects/152826-li-xiaodong-atelier-bridge-school [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].

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