Huizhen High School by Approach Design Studio/Zhejiang University of Technology Engineering Design Group in China has been declared the World Building of the Year at the 2023 World Architecture Festival (WAF) — at a grand finale Gala Dinner at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
The project was initially shortlisted in the Completed Building School category.
Approach Design Studio/Zhejiang University of Technology Engineering Design Group Director Di Ma said the studio always tries to explore the boundaries of architecture while making something that is fun.
“Our focus was not just about designing a school, or working with new forms, spaces, materials and facades, but about designing new school life and bringing the power of nature into the building.
“The building gives students a space to relax and relieve their stresses between their lessons,” said Ma.
Located in Jiangbei District, Ningbo City, Huizhen is a bold exploration of ‘efficiency-first’ campus design where time can be ‘wasted’ seriously.
The design includes scattered tree houses, which provide students with temporary escapes from the burden of school.
A ramp leads up to a gentle sloping roof, which doubles as an open-air lecture hall and a rooftop park with sporting facilities, usable by the public at the weekend — creating a new typology of architectural promenade.
World Architecture Festival Programme Director said: “The architects have managed to create a school which is very different to the usual model where students are boxed in and put under teaching and architectural pressure.
“As the architects note, you are at your most relaxed when you are wasting time, but not wasting; instead enjoying walking to classrooms through a ‘floating forest’ with plug-in buildings and amenities, all with views of nature.
“Simple materials are deployed for a combination of the innovative and the everyday and there are elements in this project that could be used for schools anywhere.”
The winner was selected by a jury of luminaries of the global architecture industry — comprising Sir Peter Cook, Cook Belacevic Haffner; Guallart, Guallart Architects; Richard Hassell, WOHA and Albert Williamson-Taylor, AKT II.