DOMAT community & architecture social architect

Yanjiang Primary School is a village primary school serving children from five nearby rural villages. The design enters the rural context, balancing a materially sensitive approach with spatial and formal tactics that explore the tensions of village life and local policies under the “One Family One House” village management policy of 2017.

The project explores a 4m x 6.4m concrete grid frame as a spatial generator, which can organize, define, and provide tectonic quality to school. Prioritising the use of locally available materials with minimal decorations the construction reveals the building as it is. Exposed bricks are used for external walls to respect the materials in the surrounding villages, whilst for internal corridors the bricks are whitewashed to brighten the habitable areas.

Parallel with an existing dormitory block, the classroom modules are arranged in a linear form. The building is bisected by a small stream that irrigates the surrounding farmland; the form shifts and rotates along the stream to align with the north-south axis softening the linear mass and giving better natural lighting. A central staircase is placed at this fulcrum and becomes a focal point for students to gather, connecting the library with a viewing platform that overlooks the stream.

The three-storey school provides 10 classrooms for primary education on the upper floors, and 3 kindergarten classrooms with a common library on the ground floor. Classrooms of the shifted block hover over the existing level difference on site to form a covered playground with higher headroom.

Curves are introduced to the design as a counterpoint to the grid structure, and to give a gentleness to the child-centred building. Beyond the classrooms, circulation spaces are lined with seating and generous atrium spaces to encourage exchange and engagement amongst students and teachers from across the school.

Project Date: September 2019 – January 2022
Location: Tongtian Town, Fengcheng City, Jiangxi, China
Initiated by: KPMG Foundation with U-Hearts
Main Donor: KPMG Foundation
Supporting Donor: Fengcheng City Education and Sports Bureau
Size: 1,600sqm
Team: Maggie Ma, Mark Kingsley, Kelvin Chan, Stephanie Tung, Echo Xiang, Luka Ng, Gianfranco Galagar
Photography: Liu Xing Yu